Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
Following last Friday’s impressive win over fifth place Bristol Moseley have the chance to go one better this week when fourth place Leeds are the visitors to Billesley Common.
Last week’s game could not have been more intense, with emotions running high at the first home game since the sad passing of Alan Adam. Added to everyone’s desire for an appropriate tribute to Alan was the slightly pressing matter of securing vital league points.
Clearly from the outset Bristol had come to try to avenge the early season loss at The Memorial Stadium and also reverse a record which saw them yet to secure a win at the Common. Racing to a fourteen point lead within the first 20 minutes Bristol’s supporters must have thought that this was their moment. A few Moseley supporters will have started to wonder what they were in for. Unfortunately for Bristol twenty two men in red and black had other ideas.
The result said much about the character of this team who at various points during the season have been the equivalent of a boxer down on one knee, against the ropes waiting one last blow. The second quarter of the game was a Rocky moment for Moseley as they started to take control of proceedings, fought back and ensured Bristol went 60 minutes without a point.
Those supporters that have seen a few games at Billesley Common will have looked at Bristol turning around at half time, to play into the wind and rain, seven points ahead and thought to themselves that it would just not be enough. And they were right as Moseley played the Common well, keeping Bristol pegged back in their own half. It was never the weather for open running rugby but more conditions for a tough fight up front and that is where the platform for victory was built by a Moseley pack who dominated the opposition eight as the game wore on.
This weekend Moseley will have no time to rest on this success as they face a tough challenge from Yorkshire in the form of Leeds Carnegie. Currently on track for a playoff berth Leeds will be looking for maximum points from this encounter to put some space between Bristol and themselves. 2012/13 has so far seen some mixed results for Leeds. Fine home wins over London Scottish and Cornish Pirates in recent weeks have been tempered by away losses to bottom placed Doncaster and Jersey.
Indeed it is Leeds away form that will be most concerning them having only won two out of nine games on the road this campaign, to Scottish and Rotherham, and they must look back to November for the last of them. With two of their last four fixtures being against fellow play off candidates Bedford and Nottingham the outcome of this game could have a big impact on their season.
Since Moseley have been in the Championship they have not yet registered a win over Leeds in league rugby. Their closest result being last season’s away loss 22 – 21. Games between the two sides tend to be high scoring so let’s hope for some entertaining rugby.
For Moseley to succeed in breaking this record they will need to nullify the threat of winger David Doherty who has already claimed twelve this season. Having played both Union and League for the club Doherty made his Premiership debut at 17 and has been a prolific scorer ever since. Moseley should be well aware of the threat he presents as he scored two tries in their 38 – 12 defeat in November. Billy Robinson will need to be on top form defensively to meet this challenge.
It’s not just out wide that Moseley will be tested as the youngest ever club captain and back row forward Jacob Rowan has helped himself to seven five pointers as well. It will be one of the key contests of the game between livewire Rowan and either Olly Robinson or Ben Pons as to who dominates the breakdown.
Discipline will need to be at the level of the Bristol game with fly half Joe Ford having already amassed 164 points to stand fifth in the Championship points scoring table. Keeping play in Leeds half to deny Ford opportunities will be a major factor in the outcome if this game. Moseley’s game management has improved with every match since the turn of the year and we again need wise old heads to focus on building the performance by getting the basics right.
With the hope that weather conditions will have improved compared to last Friday and the belief that the pack can put in another impressive performance, it’s probably time the back line showed us some more of their attacking prowess. Glimpses of this have left supporters hungry for more; perhaps Moseley can now secure their position in the Championship in style.
Moseley will have one advantage going into this game having been able to work out Leeds lineout plays following their appearance on TV’s Question of Sport. Unfortunately we probably cannot count on them selecting Phil Tufnell in their second row!
For Moseley this weekend it is a golden opportunity to put more daylight between themselves and the bottom two. With Doncaster facing an away trip to Bedford and Jersey hosting a visit from a Bristol team smarting from last Friday the prospects are good. Added to this the fact that Plymouth, currently one point ahead of Moseley, have a tough game at in-form London Scottish means there is a real prospect for Moseley to rise above tenth place.
There you go, I got all the way through the preview without mentioning Moseley’s 23 – 18 EDF Trophy Final win over Leeds at Twickenham!
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