1st XV Match Preview V Rotherham (h) Sat 14/09/2013 

 

Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

 

At last Moseley’s first home game is here…….in Doncaster!

 

The season starts with a visit north to play Rotherham in a double header “extra” game at the neutral venue of Castle Park. “Home” advantage gives the team the benefit of running out onto the pitch first and a hundred mile journey to do so!

 

Putting aside the logic(?) of the 23rd fixture Moseley do have an opportunity to make the trip worthwhile by opening their season with an all important victory over a team who have in recent seasons often been found in the same area of the league as Moseley.

 

The closeness of the two teams in terms of performance can be seen in last season’s games:

 

Saturday 1st December

Moseley

16 – 20

Rotherham

Saturday 13th April

Rotherham

26 - 22

Moseley

 

Clearly Moseley will be keen to gain revenge for the two defeats, particularly the away result which while giving them the bonus point which ensured Championship status, was a game which Moseley as much lost through poor tactics as Rotherham won.

 

While the close season has been one of relative squad stability for Moseley Rotherham have undergone a considerable number of player movements. In an attempt to build upon what has been a forward orientated style the Titans have recruited with an eye for a more expansive game. Notable signings include Juan Pablo Socino from Dax, Jack Preece from England 7’s and Ed Williamson & Alfie To’oala from London Welsh. A face familiar to support from Billesley will be Colin Quigley who has moved back to Rotherham following a season at London Scottish.

 

Rotherham’s pre-season has been relatively successful starting off with a credible 29 – 18 away loss to Worcester Warriors followed by 75 – 0 victory over Hull Ionians. As part of a triangular tournament a 3 – 52 success over Macclesfield was paired with a 26 – 5 win over Loughborough Students.

 

For Moseley last Fridays win over Hartpury may have looked convincing from the 42 – 7 score line, however they were made to work hard by a spirited Hartpury team, only pulling way during the second half. Not too much can be read into the first half as the coaching team took the opportunity to give game time to some of the squad who have not featured much so far, plus final opportunities for trial players to convince management of their worth. Of concern the lineout in the first half was worryingly reminiscent of the start of last season, although it came good as the game progressed. The scrum was again dominant; however it was hard to judge the effectiveness against a young Hartpury front row.

 

It was good to see Craig Voisey, Will Hafu, Stef Thorp And Rhys Buckley make their season debut, now recovered from injury. Particularly welcome was the sight of Anthony Carter coming on in the second half following his worrying injury against Northampton.

 

The game again underlined the team’s intent to play an attacking brand of rugby most evident in the spectacular try scored by Cory Hill showing pace more akin to a wing than a lock.

 

With Moseley looking to exploit the speed they have recruited out wide the Castle Park pitch should provide plenty of opportunity to excite. To do so though the pack must win the ball and that’s never an easy thing against a Rotherham eight. Key to a win will be the Moseley eight not falling into the trap of their last encounter by allowing Rotherham to dominate the set piece.

 

New signing Cory Hill and Captain Mike Powell will need to be on the top of their game to control the lineout while Ben Evans will be key to marshalling the forwards at scrum time. If Ollie Robinson and Chris Brightwell can use their pace to win turnover ball then we could see Moseley testing the Rotherham defence at every opportunity.

 

Saturday is a chance for Moseley to send out a message that this will not be another season of fighting off relegation, let’s get behind them for their first “home” win of the season.