BIG MATCH PREVIEW – by Glyn Barlow
It is with a real sense of déjà vu we consider this week’s match preview with another game against Rotherham Titans on offer.
Due to the artificial extra game that started the Championship season the two teams find themselves in the strange position of facing each other for the second time in 14 days.
The fixture is also significant in being Moseley’s first real home Championship game of 2013/14 (although they were theoretically the home team at Doncaster) and it’s been a long time coming.
Supporters of Moseley will be hoping for a very different performance from the one witnessed at Castle Park, while Titans fans will be hoping for more of the same after a remarkable start to the season which sees them top of the table on maximum points.
Following Rotherham’s opening day win over Moseley last Saturday saw the visit of Championship new boys Ealing Trailfinders to Clifton Lane, and a pretty painful experience it was. Rotherham ran riot winning by 79 points to 9, collecting ten tries along the way.
Key to their victory was another dominant display up front coupled with a perfect kicking performance from centre Juan Pablo Socino, who collected a personal tally of 34 points.
Socino was not just a factor in the game because of his kicking, as it was against Moseley, he controlled the centre channel and must be contained if Moseley wants to ensure they are not playing catch up rugby again.
But what of Moseley since the trip to Doncaster? Well if you liked roller coaster rides then Brickfields was the place to be last Friday.
To most supporters disbelief the 22 strangers who turned up at the Double Header game made another appearance in the first half. An almost total lack of defensive structure coupled with an absence of drive allowed Albion to run up a devastating 31 – 6 lead within the first half hour.
The writing was on the wall at half time despite clawing back a try just before the interval. This was going to be unpleasant and travelling supporters might have been excused for thinking that M5 traffic jams were more appealing than witnessing the second half.
Then wonder of wonders the strangers went home and the real Moseley came out onto the pitch. Well I say the real Moseley but what occurred was probably more than even the most optimistic of supporters would have expected from this seasons squad.
One of the most amazing turnarounds saw the team only just run out of time to take what seemed an improbable win, so strong were they in the second 40. By taking the game to Plymouth and upping the pace Moseley were also able to steady their defensive frailties.
To succeed against Rotherham on Saturday Moseley will need to play with that very same intensity from the first whistle. Let’s hope whatever coaches Kevin Maggs & Dave Hilton said to them at half time in Plymouth is said again before the start of the game this week.
First priority must be to front up to the robust Rotherham pack, if ever we needed big games from the likes of Ben Evans, Neil Mason and Buster Lawrence then this is the time. If they can put the Titans pack on the back foot and get to the breakdown sooner they can deny the Rotherham backs ball to run with. Another key will be to ensure that the three quarter line operates as a unit in defence, here we need Anthony Carter to act as the general of the backline ensuring everyone maintains their position and realigns quickly.
Clearly with Socino on form with the boot then “no penalties” must be the mind-set every player takes into the game, let’s also not forget that Moseley played for ¼ of the last game against Titans with 14 players, never a situation likely to lead to a win.
If the defence can be fortified and the pack can win ball then we can expect Moseley to unleash the attacking threat that has been evident towards the end of the Rotherham game and, to great effect, in the second half at Plymouth.
What is already becoming clear is that if the team can create space then players like Matt Williams, Simon Hunt, Scott Armstrong and Mike Penn have more than enough capability to exploit it, from pretty much anywhere on the pitch. With this much pace on offer the team can keep the opposition worried where the next point of attack is coming from.
Let’s hope Saturday sees Moseley of the vintage “Second Half Brickfields” take to the pitch and address the shortcomings of the opening weekend.
One thing is for sure, with the tries both have scored so far, we shouldn’t be in for a boring afternoon.
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