1st XV Match Preview V Jersey (h) Sat 21/12/2013 

by Glyn Barlow

This week we welcome the players, officials and the excellent travelling support of Jersey for the last home game of 2013 and the resumption of Championship activity after two weeks of cup games.

And it was two weeks of mixed fortunes against Ealing for Moseley. Following a convincing home win, where both teams took the opportunity to give many of the fringe members of their squad’s game time, the trip to London didn’t quite work out as hoped with a narrow loss being the outcome. Perhaps the result is not too surprising when one considers that Moseley took the opportunity to continue with the squad rotation policy while Ealing opted to draft back in the majority of the team who beat Jersey in their only Championship win to date.

 

The injection of a number of the more regular 1st XV starters in the second half saw Moseley come back into the game but it was a case of a little too late to turn the result. Certainly in the relatively meaningless context of the B&I cup the result, and the nature of it, will have caused little concern to the coaches and will probably have little bearing on the Jersey game.

 

Saturday’s match promises to be one of the highlights of the season at Billesley with both teams firmly committed to improving their league standings. For Jersey a win would see them draw level with Moseley and a try bonus point take them into 10th place. With the lower half of the league being very close a win for Moseley could see them, dependant on results elsewhere, move up to 8th place again. All to play for then.

 

Last season, Jersey’s first in the Championship, saw the teams meet twice with Moseley winning both encounters.

 

Sat 15th September

Jersey

12 – 31

Moseley

Sat 5th January

Moseley

23 – 19

Jersey

 

Over the summer, having learnt considerably from their first season, Jersey strengthened their squad with the addition of fly half Naill O’Conner from Ulster, Lazio prop Dave Young, Gloucester centre Drew Locke, second rows Alex Rae from Wasps and Nick Campbell from Glasgow Warriors plus Rotherham players Latu Makaafi in the back row & Jimmy Williams at scrum half. A raid on the Pirates brought back three quarter Grant Pointer, fly half Aaron Penberthy and ex-Moseley No8 Ben Maidment to the island.

 

Significant departures included the move of dynamic back row Guy Thompson to Wasps and points machine Michael Le Bourgeois to Bedford. These losses were overshadowed at the start of December by the announcement that long term Director of rugby Ben Harvey, who had taken the club from London One to the Championship, had resigned from the club. Forwards coach Steve Boden has stepped into an interim role in charge of the clubs playing affairs.

 

So far this season Jersey like Moseley have had mixed fortunes in their league campaign. Good wins over Bedford, Nottingham and Pirates have been tempered with close fought losses to Plymouth, Bristol and Rotherham. Perhaps the most disappointing result for Jersey so far was the home loss to bottom place Ealing, which allowed them claw their way to within 6 points.

 

This week we can expect a number of changes from the starting XV who took to the field at Ealing with the likes of Matt Williams, Sam Brown, Rhys Buckley, Neil Mason and Ollie Robinson keen to regain their jerseys. Following the two weeks of cup disruption, and the very disappointing trip to London Scottish, the team will be keen to return to the type of performance that saw three league wins in a row during November.

 

Against Jersey the forwards will need to develop a strong base in the scrum and lineout to play off while being very aware that the island eight have some more than useful ball carriers, not least the aforementioned Maidment and Tongan international hooker Elvis Taione.

 

In the backline Moseley will be aware of the threat brought by two players who have played in red and black in the shape of flying wing Mark Foster and centre Dai Bishop who, along with Ed Dawson on the wing, have the capability to play an incisive wide game given the opportunity.

 

Hopefully the return of Will Hooley from injury will bring an added dimension to the backline in terms of tactical kicking and attacking options. A seasonal wish perhaps is that the back three are finally given the opportunity to use some space and quality ball in attack to show us what they are really capable of.

 

This weekend is the chance for the team to pick up some vital league points and give their loyal supporters some Christmas cheer.

 

It only leaves me to wish players, officials and supporters of both teams a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.