1st XV Match Preview V Ealing (h) Sat 25/01/2014 

X

by Glyn Barlow

Following a two week diversion into the B&I Cup we return to league action with a visit from Ealing Trailfinders.

Even though Ealing were only promoted to the Championship this season the two sides will be no strangers to each other as this is the fourth encounter in three months, although it’s the first one to be played in daylight. So far Moseley have won two of the encounters to Ealing’s one:

Fri 1st Nov 2013

Championship

Ealing

6 – 15

Moseley

Fri 6th Dec 2013

B&I Cup

Moseley

28 – 10

Ealing

Fri 13th Dec 2013

B&I Cup

Ealing

21 – 18

Moseley

All that has gone before is academic now as this weekend’s game is probably the most important of the four games by far.

Following a difficult start to their campaign Ealing have made significant improvements in recent weeks with league wins on the road over Jersey (28 – 18) and Nottingham (28 – 27). In addition they held a powerful Bristol outfit to a very credible 7 – 12 loss just before Christmas and came within one point of B&I Cup pool winners Leinster A last Friday.

A factor of recent performances has been Ealing’s forwards now finding their feet and securing good possession to restrict opposition plays and to then allow the undoubtedly talented backline to start causing problems of their own.

And it is this backline that Moseley must contain. Players such as centre Ronnie McLean and wing Phil Chesters are beginning to show why teams in National One found them such a handful.

Since the two teams last met Ealing have increased their front row strength with the significant signing of 30 cap Romanian hooker Andrei Radoi, who, as you would expect from any Romanian forward, has made a big impact winning the man of the match award against Leinster A.

Ealing currently stand just four points below Jersey in the Championship and will almost certainly be targeting this game as an opportunity to vacate the basement slot, with the Islanders facing high flying Rotherham this weekend. For Moseley the close nature of the league from 7th to 12th sees this game representing an equally important opportunity to move up to that aforementioned seventh spot. With only two bonus point wins separating Moseley and Ealing there is certainly no room for complacency at Billesley Common.

For Moseley the two weeks of Cup action has yielded a mix of positives and opportunities to be built on. Despite the loss in Ireland to Leinster A the team can take heart from a very committed display. Last Saturday the team faced a Cross Keys outfit coming to the Common with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages, and pleasingly scored 5 well taken tries in a convincing win.

A good performance by props Tom Warren & Ben Evans, against one of the biggest front rows we have seen at Billesley for a long time, created a platform for possession which could have, if a number of transgressions had not gone unpunished, yielded more points for the team.

The backs looked sharp with a willingness to step up the pace in attack. The move of Matt Williams to centre will need future assessment, but Will Owen again showed a growing maturity in the midfield.

The game wasn’t without areas that can be improved. Having amassed a 24 – 10 lead just after half time the team took their collective feet off the accelerator pedal and allowed Keys back into the game, until they finally closed it out in the last 10. Arguably a trait of a consistently successful team is to play at the same level of intensity for the full match and not give the opposition the opportunity to regroup. To perform to their true potential Moseley need to find this mentality.

Make no mistake, with a resurgent Ealing looking for vital points this will be a big challenge for Moseley. Let’s hope that the recent news on the commencement of the new stand has given them an extra boost for this encounter.