Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow
This weekend we extend a warm (in spirit if not in temperature) welcome to London Scottish, in what will be the forth meeting between the two clubs this season with results currently standing 2 -1 in Moseley's favour.
Last season was Scottish’s first in the Championship, and it proved to be as tough a one as most promoted clubs experience. Joining Moseley in the dreaded Pool C Scottish avoided the drop by just two points, condemning Esher to National Division 1. This season, following a significant recruitment drive in the summer, they have fared much better and currently sit in seventh place, ten points above Moseley.
Recent weeks have seen mixed fortunes for Scottish. Impressive wins, home against Nottingham and away at the Pirates, have been tempered with a heavy loss at Leeds and a 9 – 16 defeat to Plymouth last week.
The home defeat to Plymouth was a rare blip in form which has seen Scottish win seven out of their ten home games this season. Unfortunately for them they have not been able to replicate this on the road having won only two out of nine encounters, to bottom placed Doncaster and the aforementioned Pirates.
In contrast to London Scottish’s away form Moseley have hit a 100% home success rate since the turn of the year, including a B&I Cup win over Scottish 13 – 12 in January. This result was significant for Moseley as it represented part of the turning point in the team’s fortunes, as they started to be able to select from a full squad again. In this game Moseley found confidence in their abilities and outplayed a strong Scottish team which included three ex Moseley men.
For Moseley to succeed again they need to nullify the effect of Scottish’s ruthless kicker Mark Love who so far this season has contributed over 50% of his teams points. Love’s main threat has been in the form of penalties where he is out in his own in terms of the number of three pointers scored in the Championship, with 50 successful attempts. Keep Scottish in their half and ensure no needless transgressions are made and Moseley will go a long way to starving the Londoners main source of points.
This game will provide a number of very interesting confrontations not least the one between ex-Moseley captain Andy Reay and Antony Carter who has excelled in the number 12 shirt in recent weeks. You can be sure Antony will be looking to send backwards his old teammate each time he tries to break through the gain line, and will be on the lookout for Reay’s trademark spin out of the tackle.
Two other enticing duels in the forwards spring to mind. Firstly we again see another matchup of old colleagues when back row Chevvy Pennycook meets up with the likes of Ben Pons and Neil Mason. Currently holding down the number seven shirt at Scottish Pennycook will need to find some extra speed to reach the breakdown before Ben (or indeed Ollie Robinson as the two continue to press for the Moseley openside position). As all at Billesley will recall Chevvy is a prominent gainer of yards with ball in hand, you can be sure Mr Mason will be homing in for a few big hits to contain him.
The third big matchup is a battle of attrition between two seasoned warriors of the front row as Ben Evans meets loosehead Mark Irish. It is fair to say that the addition of Ben in the Moseley pack has transformed the unit into a scrum force to be reckoned with. A long time cornerstone of the Bristol pack Irish is rightly seen as one of the best props in the Championship. Anyone with the slightest interest in the activities of the front three will be waiting in anticipation for the first scrum of the game as these two come together, the impact may register on the Richter Scale!
This weekend Moseley will be looking to replicate the drive and hard work they exhibited in their last game. The team needs to be focused from the kick off and not allow Scottish the luxury of the head start they gifted Bristol. Following a shaky first twenty minutes the team showed determination and a ruthless edge up front to starve Bristol of any further opportunity to score points.
With Doncaster facing a visit from second place Nottingham and Jersey having the almost impossible ask of an away win at Newcastle Moseley have a golden opportunity this weekend to take a win which could go a very long way to securing their future in the Championship.
As the little chap on Masterchef says it doesn’t get better than this.
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