Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow
Sunday 10th March 2013
1.15pm KO @ The Mennaye Field
This weekend Moseley make the trip south west to the Cornish Pirates off the back of a vital win against Doncaster.
While last Saturday provided four very welcome points, which now give Moseley a seven point gap over Doncaster, the team will be very aware that there is still much to do before their future in the Championship is secure.
No trip to Cornwall is ever easy, indeed since Moseley won promotion they have yet to record a win against the Pirates away. It must be acknowledged that wins have been hard to come buy full stop, with Moseley’s only success in thirteen attempts coming in 2008 when they won 29 – 20 at Billesley. The odds, however, on a draw must be quite good as the last three encounters at the Common have ended this way the most recent being the 9 – 9 result in November.
This season the Pirates are again challenging for playoff rugby standing just five points behind fourth place Bristol. Certainly their current sixth place does not yet measure up to Pirates standards of late having finished the regular season third for the last two seasons eventually going on to be losing finalists in both play offs.
This season the Pirates have struggled with their away form having won only two of their nine days out, unfortunately for Moseley the situation is reversed at home where their only defeats have come at the hands of Newcastle and most recently London Scottish. The Pirates will be keen this weekend to reverse a three game losing streak which includes away games at the Falcons and Leeds as well as the Scottish game.
The men from Cornwall have not sat back and accepted the dip in their results and prior to the signing deadline announced a number of new recruits. Bath have provided dual registered players Will Tanner at hooker, scrum half Chris Cook and fly half / full back Ollie Devoto. A loan agreement with newly promoted London Welsh has also brought wing Ashley Smith to the Mennaye.
For Moseley this Sunday provides another opportunity to gain vital league points. Last weekend the most impressive parts of the team’s performance included a resolute defensive effort coupled with an impressive forward display in the scrum and maul. To bring anything away from Cornwall the pack will need to replicate this performance and perhaps up the intensity around the field, plus the back line will need another rock solid wall to stop the Pirates three quarters.
It was indeed a telling indication of the packs dominance of the scrum that when Moseley were down to seven forwards Doncaster still elected to kick a penalty to touch rather than take an attacking scrum ten metres from the try line.
For many the loss of Charlie Hayter to Wasps gave real cause for concern. On Saturday Antony Carter banished those worries with one of his best games in a red and black shirt. He and Greg King could provide one of the most solid midfield parings in the league.
The backline will need to be sharp to contain Canadian international Matt Evans who has scored 11 of the teams 34 tries this season. Another factor for success will be to ensure prolific kicker Keiran Hallett is denied an opportunity at goal. It is probably fair to say that if Doncaster had not inexplicably turned down some relatively straightforward kicks at goal, for a shot at a lineout catch and drive, then last week’s score could have been a whole lot closer. You can be sure the Pirates will be more pragmatic in their decision making on Sunday.
Areas the team look to build on may include the precision of kicking from hand. While playing a tactical game for field position is a wise move a team with a more cutting backline than Doncaster’s could have punished the odd box kick that doesn’t land on the button. Sunday could be just the opportunity, if the pack provides the platform, for the backline to send it wide a bit more. It’s about time we saw Simon Hunt at full gallop with a bit of space to work in.
This may well be Moseley’s best chance to date for a win in Cornwall, catching a Pirates team not at their usual best while they themselves are coming good after a long run of injuries and new faces finding their way in the team.
At this point in the season why not throw caution to the wind and go all out on attack from the off? With what was always going to be one of the seasons tough assignments there is nothing to be lost by taking a few chances.
You never know we might just be a few points nearer safety on Sunday evening.
For those not travelling to the game it will be shown on the big screen in the clubhouse at Billesley
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