1st XV Match Preview V London Welsh (h) Sat 23/11/2013 

Match Preview by Glyn Barlow

 

Following last week’s excellent away win at Bedford Moseley look forward to the visit of London Welsh with more confidence than many would have expected a month ago.

 

The three league wins in a row represent a run of form that supporters will have to look back to the playoffs of season 2011/12 to find anything similar.  If the team do make it four in a row with victory over London Welsh then that is an achievement that has not occurred since the 2010/11 season playoffs.

 

Too fanciful a hope? Not if you ask the coaches and players who have now weathered the early season trials, where the challenges of being a part time squad meant that they were on a steeper learning curve, and are beginning to play to their true potential.

 

Last week at Bedford the pack put in another impressive performance in all phases of play particularly in the way they defended and looked to gain ground at every opportunity. Not to be outdone by the forwards Matt Williams underlined why the team needs to create space and ball for him to work his magic. Also of great satisfaction to Moseley supporters will have been Caolan Ryan proving that his outstanding performance at fly half against Nottingham was no one off.

 

Despite the feel-good factor emanating from the Common at present you can be sure that Moseley will not be underestimating the challenge London Welsh will pose. Eight wins from Eight speaks volumes.

 

Feeling justifiably hard done by during the brief visit to the top league, which was hampered by little time to prepare and events conspiring against them during the season, Welsh started the season with the expressed aim to go back up and at present they are certainly on track to do so.

 

In order to prepare for the assault Welsh recruited a number of key players during the summer including Moseley No 8 Ben Pienaar, England centre Tom May from Northampton, Lions hooker Andy Titterell from Edinburgh, back row Richard Thorpe from Leicester (with 137 Premiership appearances behind him), England 7’s scrum half  Ollie Frost and second row Peter Browne from Harlequins. Further experience comes in the shape of international players Hudson Tonga’uihu from Tonga, 31 cap Welsh centre Sonny Parker and Scotland Fly Half Gordon Ross. So far this season Ross has proved to be as adept as ever with the boot standing second in the league’s top point scorers, a role he combines with also acting as assistant coach.

 

Despite the 8 for 8 record there is some evidence to suggest Welsh haven’t always had it their own way. Victories over Bedford (by 9 points), Rotherham (5), Scottish (6), Leeds (7) have all been very close affairs. Indeed last week’s 28 – 0 victory over bottom placed Ealing is almost of more credit to the Trailfinders than Welsh in that the Struggling Londoners managed to contain them to one of their least painful losses on the season.

 

Since Moseley won promotion to the Championship the two teams have met 12 times in league encounters with Moseley winning 3 to Welsh’s 9. The performance record is slightly improved when one factors in Moseley’s 2 out of 3 cup victories, but like Bedford and Nottingham before them the time is right to start readdressing the situation.

 

Last time the two teams met was in 2011 with honours even:

 

Sat 8th Oct 2011

Moseley

16 – 41

London Welsh

Sat 31st Dec 2011

London Welsh

7 – 10

Moseley

 

So can Moseley win? Well they are improving with every match and if the forwards can produce a performance like the one at Goldington Road then they will starve London Welsh’s talented back division of possession. Assuming Moseley can shut down Welsh’s attack then the key question will be can they get their own offence going? Both Caolan Ryan and Will Hooley at fly half have shown a willingness to run the ball, if Will Owen and Greg King can step up and create positions to bring the back three into the game then we could just see a firecracker of a game.

 

This team are on the cusp of consolidating their place as one of the best Moseley squads in recent seasons, with an ability to challenge anyone in the league. Let’s hope they live up to their potential.