Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow
Well the comeback kids nearly did it again last Friday.
After the opening 20 minutes, and 3 – 24 down, many a Moseley supporter would have been forgiven for thinking it was going to be a painful old evening. Thankfully it wasn’t as bad as it first seemed.
Firstly you have to give credit to a Leeds team who scored what were probably some of the best executed tries we have seen at Billesley Common this season. The exhibition of pace, power and precision of pass was pretty impressive. To some extent Moseley were guilty of holding back in defence, somewhat strange when you consider how effective they have been in this department in recent weeks.
It’s very much to the credit of the team that they didn’t drop their heads and accept the seemingly inevitable. As exciting as the first 20 was for Leeds supporters the next 60 odd minutes were to Moseley fans as the team first held back the tidal wave of Leeds attacks, then began to gain ascendancy in the forwards and finally started to launch some spectacular attacks of their own.
For those Moseley faithful who have longed for the team to cut loose this season and show what they could do their patience was finally rewarded. Running out of their own 22, with Billy Robinson to the fore, and the ball even being passed to Simon Hunt, who finally showed some of the threat he always seemed to deliver against Moseley in previous seasons. Happy days.
Sadly it proved to be just a gap too large to close down, and cruelly the team left the field with not even a bonus point to show for such an impressive comeback.
So unfortunately that is now two weeks running where Championship security has just been missed. Let’s hope this weekend’s trip to Rotherham proves third time lucky.
While the matter of who stays up may indeed be decided in St Peter on Saturday when Jersey and Doncaster fight it out, you can be sure that Moseley will want to take things into their own hands at Clifton Lane. Mathematically Moseley remain in poll position but that could change if Doncaster win.
Currently standing 11 points behind Moseley the Knights need to win at least two of their remaining three games against Jersey, Bedford away and Plymouth at home, plus pick up some bonus points along the way. A tall order indeed, particularly when you consider all three games fall within 8 days, but no one at Billesley need reminding how the sharp end of the season can transform teams.
The other team in the mix, Jersey are five points behind Moseley so could still overhaul us if they only get a losing bonus point against Doncaster but pick up five points at the Pirates in their last game (another big ask, I know).
Some points on Saturday please guys, and put us out of our worries!
There is however is a certain Yorkshire team who may have other ideas on that front.
For the Titans the season probably hasn’t developed the way they had hoped. Currently sitting in eight place they will be looking at their last three games (at the time of writing they are still to play the Cornish Pirates on Wednesday) as a chance to push up the table for a more respectable mid table finish. Interestingly Rotherham have won only one more game than Moseley but have a six points buffer due to having secured more bonus points.
In Rotherham’s last outing they fell foul of Moseley’s opponents from last week going down 24 – 7 at Leeds, having previously beaten Doncaster and impressively run Newcastle close 22 – 34 at Clifton Lane. Home form during the season has proved to be somewhat lacking with victories over Plymouth, Doncaster, Bristol and Jersey their only reward.
Earlier in the season the Titans triumphed at Billesley 16 – 20 In a game where Moseley misfired early on, fought back in the latter stages, almost profiting from Rotherham indiscipline. It is a markedly different team that took to the field in December compared to the one that will travel North this weekend. The introduction of Ben Evans and the return of Mike Powell will make them more than capable of facing up to the challenge of the big Titans pack. Based on Friday’s performance Sam Wilkes and Addison Lockley need to get their heads together to sort out the lineout, otherwise in all areas up front Moseley should be more than equal to the task.
In the backline Moseley will need to contain Rotherham’s leading try scorer winger Peter Homan who has already scored a brace at Billesley this season. Another player to watch will be livewire Charlie Mulchrone, a scrum half always on the lookout for scoring opportunities.
An area that Moseley will be happy that Rotherham are far ahead of them is in poor discipline where the Titans stand in second place having received 17 yellow cards, the most (4) being picked up by ex-Moseley player Dan Sanderson. Plus ça change…..
To win this game Moseley will need to exert pressure through the forwards from the first whistle. If they can gain dominance in the set piece and if Ollie Robinson can play in the barnstorming way he did on Friday to link with the backline then Moseley could start to cut loose in the same way they did against Leeds.
If the team plays with composure from the off, and avoids allowing the Titans to have a head start, then they should take the belief they gained on Friday forward and win with style.
The future is very much in their own hands, let’s hope they grasp it.
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