1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (a) Sat 28/12/2013 

by Glyn Barlow

So the final game of 2013 is upon us with a trip to Bristol on Saturday.

The team and supporters will have enjoyed the festive break following the pre-Christmas win over Jersey which saw the team take their fourth victory in their last six Championship fixtures. 

The Jersey game was never going to be anything but a hard fought encounter, and it will have been no surprise to supporters of either team that a Barbarians style try festival didn’t materialise. That said we did witness one of the best tries at the Common this season courtesy of some electric finishing from Matt Williams, which was the icing on an excellent all round performance as he put in tackle after tackle as part of a heroic team defensive effort.

 

Nowhere more was the steadfast defence in evidence than in the second half where the pack withheld the powerful Jersey eight in a series of try line scrums, eventually denying the visitors what seemed an inevitable score giving the pressure they put Moseley under. While not perhaps being spectacular for the casual observer anyone who has stuck their head into a scrum in anger will have nodded in appreciation at the outcome.

 

This week the team face another stern challenge this time from a team currently occupying the fourth playoff spot in the league.

 

In recent seasons Moseley have enjoyed one of their more remarkable records, since their elevation to level 2, against Bristol having won 4, lost 2 and drew 1. Last season Moseley recorded a double over the men in blue and white:

 

Fri 28th Sept

Bristol

21 – 22

Moseley

Fri 15th Mar

Moseley

23 – 14

Bristol

 

Despite the recent record Moseley will not enter this encounter with any form of complacency against one of the strongest outfits in the league.

 

Close season saw Director of Rugby Andy Robinson make a number of changes with a number of players leaving the team including fly half Matt Jones, wing David McIlwaine, prop Wayne Thompson and most significantly from a Billesley point of view Matt Williams. In return recruitment from the Premiership included England international No8 Ben Skirving and centre Ben Mosses from Bath, full back Jack Wallace from Wasps, and more recently scrum half Luke Baldwin from Saracens. They join familiar faces in 13 cap Welsh fly half Nicky Robinson and ex Moseley player Tristian Roberts.

 

So far this season Bristol have made a strong start with impressive victories over London Scottish, Rotherham and Plymouth. Particularly prominent in the Bristol ranks has been young wing George Watkins scorer of 9 tries in a team who have scored the most tries to date in the Championship. Moseley’s will need another big defensive effort to contain this side.

 

Assuming Moseley’s defence can keep Bristol contained then they will be looking for another solid forward platform to work off. The return of Alex Woolford last weekend has strengthened Moseley’s line out options while his partner in the second row Mike Powell is continuing to exhibit a powerful close quarters game. The return of Woolford has also allowed Buster Lawrence to revert to his preferred back row slot and we can expect another dynamic performance from him along with Neil Mason and Ollie Robinson who will keen to put one over his Father’s team.

 

In the backs the move of Scott Armstrong to centre gives the team a different dynamic and with so many strike runners now in place we can hope Will Hooley & Sam Brown take every opportunity to give them quick, front foot ball.

 

The team has the chance to end the year on a high with a win moving them ahead of Plymouth into seventh place, the good position to see in the New Year from. Let’s hoe their good form continues.