1st XV Match Preview V Nottingham (h) Sat 09/11/2013 

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Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

 

So the monkey of wins is finally off the teams back with last Friday’s victory at Ealing. The collective sigh of relief could probably have been heard in Billesley, but there is certainly no time for complacency with Nottingham visiting the Common on Saturday.

 

Many an observer in London last week would have admitted that the game was not a classic, but that was probably too much to hope for with both teams well aware of the need to get their season going. For Moseley it was very much a case of job done, four points and no bonus point for Ealing. Arguably a try bonus point went begging, but we can forgive the team that when you consider the pressure they were under.

 

Almost as important as the points is the confidence the team will gain from the result. To have played below their collective best and still won vindicates the belief that the players have the required skills to succeed. This week they need to take that self-belief forward and back themselves to do the right things on the pitch.

 

Let’s not underestimate the task at hand this weekend. Moseley face a Nottingham team that they have rarely beaten since their return to this league and we need to look back to 2007 for the last win, a 21 – 28 away victory. In total the teams have met fourteen times with Nottingham victorious in twelve of them. Last season’s fixtures yielded the following:

 

Sat 8th Nov 2012

Moseley

17 – 28

Nottingham

Sun 23rd Dec 2012

Nottingham

18 – 9

Moseley

 

There may, however, never be a better opportunity for Moseley to start redressing the balance than this weekend. Last season’s beaten semi-finalists have not got off to the best of starts and currently stand two points above Moseley in the league. A good opening day victory over Leeds, in the same double header event as Moseley, proved to be something of a false dawn as they have subsequently gone on to record losses to London Welsh, London Scottish, Jersey & Bristol. Last weekend they managed to turn the ship around with an injury time win over Bedford. Add to this B&I cup losses to Plymouth & Munster A and Nottingham’s season is looking pretty familiar to Moseley supporters.

 

The fact that Nottingham have made such a slow start is somewhat surprising to most followers of the Championship as they have almost always been fighting it out near the top of the league. The club is operating with a smaller squad that previous seasons, and this may be having some impact on performances. Another factor that may be conspiring to hold Nottingham back is the unwanted statistic that sees them top the league in terms of yellow cards received.

 

Familiar faces in the Nottingham squad include centre Joe Munroe who made 6 appearances for Moseley in 2010/11 and wing Ed Styles who made 19 appearances in the same season. As part of their build up to the new season Nottingham have brought Wales U20 fly half Matthew Jarvis from Connacht, Ireland U20 second row Neilus Keogh from Lazio, 14 cap Fiji international prop Campese Ma’afu from Cardiff Blues and former Plymouth hooker John Vickers into the squad. The team is bolstered by Leicester duel registered players Henry Purdy on the wing, centre George Catchpole, second row Tom Price and Ryan Bower at loosehead among others.

 

For Moseley the first order of the day will be for the pack to put in another performance as impressive as the one they delivered in West London. It’s fair to say that to beat Nottingham the backs need to make much better use of possession. At the standard of rugby the Championship is now played at you cannot fail to take opportunities when they are presented. The odd dropped / missed pass can prove costly so the team needs to execute with precision and pace. We potentially have some of the most exciting back three players in the league so let’s hope the team take the initiative to bring them into play whenever possible.

 

Currently things are pretty tight in the bottom half of the Championship With just 2 points separating eighth and eleventh positions the right result for Moseley on Saturday could catapult them up the league. Let’s hope they grasp the opportunity (and the ball) with both hands.