1st XV Match Preview V Rotherham (a) Sat 01/02/2014 

by Glyn Barlow

 

Following last week’s win over Ealing who sit at the bottom of the Championship table, Moseley travel to Yorkshire to face Rotherham, a team currently at the other end of the league. 

 

A tough challenge indeed but one Moseley should be better equipped for than when the two teams met at the beginning of the season. Moseley had the unfortunate luck to “draw” Rotherham in the extra game at Doncaster. It was an encounter against a Titans team who hit the Championship season like an express train and to be honest the result was a bit of a train wreck, with Moseley on the wrong end of a 24 – 42 score line. Despite two well taken tries by Simon Hunt and Matt Williams Moseley had no answer Rotherham’s intensity or there classy Argentine centre Juan Pablo Socino who kicked 22 points alone.

 

To make matters worse they did it all again when they visited Billesley Common two weeks later, this time with a score of 21 – 47, five tries and another 22 points for Sr. Socino.

 

Since the slow start to the season Moseley have improved considerably. How much? Well we should be able to gauge that on Saturday. The two recent wins over Cross Keys & Ealing will have boosted the squad’s confidence. While there will have been a certain amount of tension around the need to beat Ealing and extend the gap between the two teams the game against Rotherham will have a different dynamic about it.

 

Since the two teams last met Moseley have improved their defence considerably and we are seeing glimmers of the backline being able to convert their potential to points. The coaches will again have some interesting selection calls to make. Last week against Ealing Will Hooley played a good tactical game at fly half getting his backline moving well, however the return to fitness of Ollie Thomas with his unerring boot cannot be ignored. Scott Armstrong is making a fight for the outside centre berth with Will Owen and up front the competition at number 8 between Buster Lawrence and Chris Brightwell is becoming very interesting.

 

In Rotherham confidence will be a commodity readily available as you have to look back to November 17th for their last defeat, one of only four, against Bristol away. Recent weeks have seen cup wins over Bedford (24-32) and Connacht (59-3) coupled with league victories over Pirates (35-30), Bedford (35-6) and Jersey (22-35).

 

On the playing front Rotherham are unfortunate to have lost the services of powerhouse back row Laurence Pearce, out with a long term injury. More positive news was the recent confirmation that Head Coach Lee Blackett, who has done much to transform the team this season, had signed on for a further two years.

 

For Moseley to win on Saturday they will need one of their most disciplined performances of the season as Juan Pablo Socino currently leads the leagues kickers with almost double the points of his nearest rival. In addition Moseley then need to shut down an offence that has scored a league leading 46 tries to date, with full back Michael Keating and hooker Tom Cruse to the fore.

 

A challenge to be sure but Moseley have a habit of springing an upset on the league’s top teams when you least expect it. Will Saturday be one of those upsets? Well it might just be time to show just how far the team can progress.