Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
Following last Saturday’s disappointing loss to London Scottish Moseley now have a chance to rectify matters this week when fifth place Leeds are the visitors to Billesley Common.
The team will have been bitterly disappointed they did not take the opportunity to all but secure their Championship future with a win over Scottish. A lack of discipline at times coupled with some interesting refereeing decisions combined to see Moseley lose the lead with ten minutes to go. It has to be acknowledged that you have to play to the officials’ interpretation of the laws and perhaps the team should have recognised the fact that things were going against them at the breakdown and amended their approach to suit. It is in this area we need some of the more experienced members of the team to step up and lead by example.
On the positive side we again saw a very impressive performance from the pack including the very welcome return to action of Craig Voisey after his long term arm injury. From starting the season worrying about the strength in depth of props Moseley can now field two sets of front row who can compete with anyone in the league.
This weekend Moseley will have no time to rest as they face a very tough challenge from Yorkshire in the form of Leeds Carnegie. Currently fighting for a playoff berth Leeds will be looking for maximum points from this encounter to overtake Bristol. 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. Last weekend they achieved an impressive home win over Rotherham 24 – 7.
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 are yet to register 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 their 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 Olly Robinson as to who dominates the breakdown.
Discipline will need to be at the level of the recent Bristol game, rather than the Scottish performance, 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 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 further 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 recent 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 secure their future. As important to Moseley as the game at Billesley is next weekends encounter at St Peter where eleventh place Jersey take on twelfth place Doncaster. A win from Jersey, denying Doncaster a bonus point, would leave Moseley in the clear regardless of Fridays result at the Common. That said I am sure it would be preferable for the team to succeed by their own endeavours rather than relying on others to do it for them. It’s not just about avoiding the drop Moseley will still have Plymouth and Rotherham in their sights and a potentially higher finish to the season.
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 (again)!
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