by Glyn Barlow
This week we return to the challenges of the British & Irish Cup and it could prove to be just what Moseley needs after Saturday’s trip to Richmond.
The last batch of B&I Cup fixtures came at the end of Moseley’s frustrating run of Championship games without a win at the start of the season. Despite the fact that the two cup games also failed to see any victories the team came back into the Championship schedule with a good performance against Leeds and run of three straight wins.
Significantly the game that started the winning run was against this week’s opposition Ealing Trailfinders.
Any thoughts, however, that back to back cup games against Ealing would be an easy task were dispelled last week when the Trailfinders secured their first Championship win with an impressive performance in Jersey.
Like Moseley Ealing will have viewed the time since the previous round of cup games as a time of progress. Despite the run of loses prior to Saturday Ealing certainly did not disgrace themselves and a steady development could be detected.
A significant factor in the win over Jersey was prolific winger Phil Chesters finally making his mark on the Championship scene with a well taken brace of tries. Chesters who scored 71 tries in two seasons in National Division 1 and a record 70 in one season while Ealing were in National 2 is never going to be a player who will fail to impress given half an opportunity. When you consider Ealing can also call on pace man Billy Robinson, who made 50 appearances for Moseley scoring 9 tries, you realise that this is a team that you cannot afford to grant space to play in. Let’s be honest the prospect of Chesters and Matt Williams on the same pitch is worth the entrance fee alone!
The fixture also throws up some interesting questions for coaches Kevin Maggs and Dave Hilton following the disappointing loss to London Scottish. Do they use the cup as an opportunity for some squad rotation or do they look to get the 22 who took to the field at the Athletic Ground back on the park to work out the issues encountered and rebuild confidence?
With some of the “senior” players having put in some big shifts over the last few weeks there will be an argument to give them some down time to recover. Equally fringe players need game time to keep sharp. The impending temporary departure of Chris Brightwell for his upcoming wedding means a new back row permutation is needed to bed in. With an important fixture against Jersey in the Championship just before Christmas the team will want to perform well in both games against Ealing and use them as a springboard back into league action.
Another interesting conundrum is the vagary of scheduling back to back games. How will the team look to tackle each fixture without giving away all their ploys in the first instance? (and how will we find something different to say for next week’s match preview?).
Based on the London Scottish game the first focus will be to get the scrum firing again. Against a big Scottish pack Moseley’s eight came off second best. The issue was one as much of tactic as strength with the move to counter the referees opinion on transgressions by changing the front row coming just too late. Let’s hope they see this week as a chance to prove that it was a one off performance. One of the keys to beating Ealing will certainly be to deny their backs any ball to run.
Despite the disappointing score line the team can take forward some positives. Another good shift from centre pairing Greg King & Will Owen was coupled with a glimpse of what Scott Armstrong can deliver. Buster Lawrence put himself all over the park for another 100% effort.
Perhaps the most important factor of the next two games is for Moseley to ensure they do not allow Ealing to build on the confidence given by their Jersey trip. Moseley have a chance to make a psychological statement which could have greater implications that just a run in the cup. Let’s hope they seize the opportunity with relish.
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