Big Match Preview, by Mike Pollak - ‘The big wait ends... here comes rugby...’
Friendly, Moseley v Newport RFC
Billesley Common, Saturday, 17 August, 3pm
It’s that time of the year again - Mose supporters are about to renew acquaintances with last season’s retained players and keen to see the new recruits.
It’s also the time when supporters across the land have high expectations - if all their hopes were fulfilled, no club would finish second.
More realistically for Moseley, the team will again be aiming for a mid-table - or better - final position.
First up is a home match against Newport, who play in the Welsh Premiership League and are one of the clubs that feed the Gwent regional side Newport Gwent Dragons. They finished in 7th place in the Prem last season.
Encouragingly, Moseley coach Kevin Maggs has retained more than two-thirds of his squad which was playing fast and powerful rugby by the end of last season.
He has replaced the leavers with an enticing mixture of youth and experience - the new recruits’ ages range from 20 to 30.
Joining the forwards are; Front Row: Rhys Buckley, 24, Hooker, Doncaster; Lewis Woodfield, Prop, Moseley Colts; Second Row: Alex Woolford, 20, Northampton Saints; Cory Hill, 21, Cardiff Blues; Back Row: Chris Brightwell, 28, England 7s; Joseph Carpenter, 25, Dudley Kingswinford; Back Row / Hooker / Centre: Will Hafu, 30, Doncaster Knights;
Joining the backs are: Fullback / Wing: Mike Penn, 24, Edinburgh; Centre: Will Owen, 20, Newport Gwent Dragons Academy; Wing: Scott Armstrong, 26, Northampton Saints; Matt Williams, 24, Bristol
Moseley will also be able to call on some talented youngsters under dual registration with Northampton Saints.
Doubtless, Maggs will be keen to exploit the pace of genuine flyer Matt Williams from Bristol and the powerful running of wing Scott Armstrong from Northampton Saints, who played a couple of promising cameo performances for Moseley last season.
In the forwards, former England 7s player Chris Brightwell will be bidding for a place in the back tow, while former Coventry hooker Will Hafu will provide numerous options with his ability to also play back row or centre.
The Mose squad couldn’t wish for a better test than Newport RFC, who were founded in 1874, one year after Moseley. Newport’s rugby heritage is second to none and they can rightly claim - as they do on their website - that they are one of the greatest club sides in the world.
How many other clubs can boast of having beaten South Africa (twice), Australia, New Zealand and Tonga? A single victory over a southern hemisphere touring side would be admirable, but five is something special.
Or what about their record of having provided 20 Welsh Captains, 31 British Lions, plus captains of England, Ireland, Canada, Fiji and the Czech Republic, and over 150 different Welsh internationals?
Newport struggled to come to terms with professionalism in the 1990s, but the new millennium has seen an upturn at Rodney Park and they have twice been runners-up in the Welsh Premiership.
The Black & Ambers will provide stern opposition for Moseley’s first run-out of the season. Often in pre-season matches, level of performance can take precedence over the result, but when it comes to a Welsh-English encounter, there is always an extra edge and determination to win. It should be an entertaining and instructive encounter.
Moseley will play two further home pre-season friendlies - against Northampton Saints, Thursday 22 August, 7.30pm, and against Hartpury College, Friday, 6 September, 7.30pm.
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