Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
Friday sees the final game of Moseley’s pre-season preparations when National 2 side Hartpury College visit Billesley.
Following Moseley’s 40 – 23 win over Newport and a close fought 32 – 38 loss to Northampton Saints the team will be looking for a further improvement in their performance on Friday to take into the Championship Double Header opening weekend at Doncaster on Saturday 14th September.
Anybody underestimating the challenge Hartpury bring to the Common would be well advised to think again. Last season Hartpury finished 3rd in National 2 South just behind Henley and Worthing, following seven consecutive promotion seasons.
As a club developing young talent the College has a recent record second to none with the likes of England 7s star Dan Norton, England wings Charlie Sharples & Jonny May and Irish second Row Dan Touhy all ex-Hartpury players. These names are of course familiar to Moseley supporters due to the clubs previous duel registration arrangement with Gloucester. A situation which also saw Hartpury players Henry Trinder, David Lewis and Dan Robson play in red & black. Indeed Hartpury have consolidated relations with Gloucester in recent seasons so we could well see some more future Gloucester or indeed England stars this Friday.
During Hartpury’s pre-season campaign they have experienced mixed fortunes. A heavy loss to Ealing 55 – 12 was followed by an impressive 40 – 21 win over Munster U20. Unfortunately they suffered a 29 – 10 reversal to National one outfit Richmond last weekend.
A notable player, and a wise old head, in the Hartpury squad is full back Sean Marsden ex of many Premiership & Championship appearances for Bristol and Exeter, who has a player / coach role at the College. Marsden links up with another player of considerable experience in prop Darren Crompton who has played for Bath, Cardiff and Bristol and gained an England cap in 2007 against South Africa.
For Moseley the game represents one last chance to tweak their plans prior to the season starting for real against Rotherham.
Coaches Maggs & Hilton will have been very pleased with the attacking intent of the team shown in both games to date along with the pack providing a very solid platform to deliver good ball. Promising debut’s from the likes of Will Owen, Mike Penn, Matt Williams and Chris Brightwell have been supplemented by Ben Evans, Ollie Robinson, Sam Brown and Anthony Carter (hopefully soon back in action following his worrying injury) continuing their good form from last season.
An area the squad will want to improve on is in defence where the Saints exposed some of the lack of familiarity you would expect when new combinations are being tried out. It is at this point that we need some of the senior players in the squad to step up and start to marshal the defensive lines early season.
When you consider we still have player like Buster Lawrence, Will Hafu, Rhys Buckley and Stefan Thorp to call upon then the prospects are looking promising for the upcoming campaign.
Let’s hope Friday takes the team another step forward.
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