Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
Following last weekend’s tough game against title chasers Leeds Moseley have no easier challenge on Friday as they face a trip down the M40 to play the only other team currently winless in the Championship, Ealing Trailfinders.
Again the team and management will have taken many positives from the Leeds game, but again they will have been wondering what might have been.
Having made a very positive start, leading for most of the first half, the game slipped away from them and as in previous weeks it was handling errors and defensive gaps that were their undoing. On the credit side however we saw another assured performance from fly half Will Hooley and plenty of endeavour from Ollie Robinson and Chris Brightwell in the back row. Very much on the negative side though was the loss of Ollie Thomas with an injury that will keep him out for a few weeks.
While Moseley were facing Leeds Fridays opponents Ealing were giving Bedford Blues an early Halloween fright. The 31 - 14 final score is probably an unfair reflection of Ealing’s performance. An evenly contested first half was followed in similar vain after the break until Bedford finally managed to pull away, to their great relief, in the latter stages.
While we may be taking some comfort in Moseley’s improved performance with every game, it is fair to say that Ealing have been making even greater strides forward since their 9 – 79 hammering by Rotherham, so defiantly no case for complacency this Friday.
The significant improvements by Ealing should be no surprise from a club who has seen their ambition in recent seasons rewarded by rapid progress up the leagues having won National League 2 South in 2011, just topping the league above Jersey who were promoted alongside them. The following season the roles were reversed in National 1 with Jersey claiming the only promotion spot into the Championship. 2012/13 saw Ealing make no mistakes in their challenge, only losing three games all season to Old Albanians, Blaydon & Fylde.
Like Moseley Ealing is a rugby club with a long history. The club first played rugby in 1869 becoming officially a club in 1871 with the founding of the RFU. Always a prominent club in the Middlesex area Ealing hit difficult times in the late 1980’s with relegation seeing them fall through the London Divisions. The club moved to its current ground, a former Great Western Railways hospital for horses, in 1999 and with it the new millennium brought a reversal of fortunes to Ealing and they began a steady climb up the leagues.
In order to prepare for life in the Championship Ealing have looked to recruit a number of experienced players into their squad including Plymouth back row Sam Hocking, Ireland U20 prop Conor Carey from Ulster, centre Tom Bedford & prop Ryan Storer from the Cornish Pirates and a couple of players well known at Billesley Common in Billy Robinson and Sam Wilkes.
The new players will join National One’s leading try scorer Phil Chesters who touched down 30 times last season. A fairly modest total for him having claimed 42 the previous season and an amazing 70 during their promotion year in National 2 South!
In addition to Chesters Ealing have retained the services of National One’s leading goal kicker Tom Wheatcroft and England counties wing Owen Bruynseels. The squad is supplemented by dual registration agreements with Harlequins and Wasps with six players available including England U20’s Junior World Cup back row Jack Clifford and centre Harry Sloan.
Turning our attentions back to Moseley then the game this week provides yet another opportunity to step up and secure a much needed win in a season that has stuttered along so far. In honesty there should be no reason why the lapses of concentration which have led to opposition scores should now still be present as we enter November. The key factor for the team must be to concentrate and play with intensity for every minute of the game.
There were enough sparks in attack on Saturday to suggest the team will be able to trouble the Ealing defence, they just need to Ensure they do not give the Trailfinders a free run at their line in return.
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