1st XV Match Preview V Leeds (h) Sat 26/10/2013 

X

Match Preview by Glyn Barlow

 

After the two week break in proceedings it’s back to Championship rugby with a visit from Leeds Carnegie this Saturday.

 

While nobody at Moseley will tell you that the B&I Cup is the biggest priority of the season, the recent rounds may just have come at the right time for the team. Although there is disappointment that both games were narrow losses many positives will be taken from the improvements in play, particularly at Billesley Common last week.

 

For many the visit of reigning champions Leinster A may have seems a very daunting prospect. The team certainly rose to the occasion and made their best start of the season. It was a pleasant experience for the Moseley faithful to head off for half time refreshment with their team in the lead.

 

Particularly heartening to see was the new centre partnership of Greg King and Will Owen which could just resolve one of the frustrating problem areas of the team. Fly Half Will Hooley showed great promise in his ability to control play putting in some fine tactical kicking along with a willingness to keep the opposition defence tested at any opportunity. Coupling this with one of Ollie Thomas’s best performances at full back and it could be said that the backline started to realise their obvious potential.

 

As good as the backs were they could do nothing without ball to use and the forwards fronted up to the big Leinster eight, with the back row being particularly prevalent in proceedings. Alex Woolford took another step forward in his development as a second row and may prove to be one of the key signings over the summer along with Rhys Buckley who never tired of carrying the ball in close contact.

 

Unfortunately it was again a couple of lapses in defensive concentration that allowed Leinster to finally take the lead. To compound this a deluge of rain rarely seen since Noah’s time prevented them coming back in the last 15 minutes to challenge for the win

 

So what of this week’s opponents Leeds? Well they will be bursting with confidence having despatched Gala 86 – 8 on Sunday. As is always the case with B&I Cup games it’s hard to interpret scores of this magnitude, were Leeds so good or were Gala playing with one eye on the Scottish Premiership as a priority? What you cannot dispute is that to score thirteen tries against any team at this level takes some ability. Indeed they had all but won the game by half time with six tries and forty points on the board.

 

Leeds have also made a good start to their Championship campaign having won three of their four games to date including impressive away victories over Cornish Pirates and Bedford. Leading the charge for Leeds are Full Back Steve McColl, Wing Jonah Holmes and Scrum Half Craig Hampson, who all figure in the leagues list of top try scorers, ably supported by the boot of Full Back Alex Lozowski. Supporters will remember McColl & Hampson’s try scoring exploits  from Leeds win at Billesley in April and the team will we keen not to let the men from Yorkshire repeat the early dominance of last season, while being acutely aware of the threat posed by Carnegie’s big, hard running back line.

 

During the close season, in a bid to challenge for promotion, Leeds supplemented their squad with a number of new signings. The most prominent addition as far as Moseley supporters are concerned was the move from Billesley of last season’s Fly Half Glyn Hughes. While Hughes has yet to secure the fly half berth for himself you will be sure he will be keen to face his old colleagues at the Common.

 

Joining Hughes are, the aforementioned Holmes from Wasps, Prop Lee Imiolek from Sale Sharks and Second Rows Shaun Jones from Llandovery and Jersey’s Nathan Hannay.

Within the last few weeks they have also secured the services of loan signing Charlie Beech at Prop from Bath.

 

Since Moseley returned to level two they have faced Leeds nine times, with only one win in the 2009 cup final to show for it. Games between the two teams almost always develop into high scoring affairs so supporters should be in for an entertaining afternoon.

 

Last season Leeds won at “home” in Wharfdale 38 – 12 and narrowly held on to win at Billesley 20 – 29.

 

Moseley potentially face one of their toughest games of the 2013/14 campaign on Saturday. Can they win? Well based on the effort shown last weekend and a further tightening of the defence they could well upset the form book. The main focus must be to maintain concentration for the full 80+ minutes of the game, in this league you cannot afford to drift off the pace of the game.

 

It’s a big game, but there is no better time for the squad to start proving that they can compete with all teams in the Championship and start to climb the table