By Glyn Barlow
This week Moseley travel to Richmond for what is almost an away game for both teams.
In a departure from the last two seasons of playing their fixtures in Oxford London Welsh have opted to return to their long-time home at Old Deer Park for Sundays match.
Regardless of where the game takes place you can be sure that Moseley will be in for one of their hardest challenges of recent weeks, but not one that is insurmountable.
When the two sides last met at Billesley Common in November Moseley held the then undefeated Welsh to an 8-24 loss, denying them a try bonus point in the process. Whilst this was a commendable result the team were frustrated at missing opportunities to close down the gap as the second half progressed.
Welsh followed up this performance with a loss at Moseley’s opponents of last weekend, Bedford Blues 28-26 and also faltered on a visit to Plymouth 36-15. Coupled with close wins over Jersey, London Scottish and Leeds suggest the Welsh are finding their return to the Championship not quite as easy as they would have liked.
We cannot however assume too much from these performances as on their day they can still be one of the most ruthless outfits in the league, as their 47-16 demolition of title contenders Rotherham proved.
Key to the teams attacking edge is wing Seb Stegmann who has already touched down over the try line nine times in the league. Stegmann is part of a backline that also includes internationals Sonny Parker, Gordon Ross and Tom May.
Up front Moseley’s pack will need one of its best performances to contain the likes of Ex Pirate Ian Nimmo, powerhouse back row Ollie Stedman and former Moseley No8 Ben Pienaar.
Since Moseley last met Welsh they have strengthened their squad with the addition of US Eagles fly half Toby L’Estrange, New Zealander Nathan Vella at hooker, England Counties wing James Tincknell and South African Hooker Matthew Dobson. Off the field Head Coach Justin Burnell’s staff has been enhanced by ex-England and British & Irish Lions Centre Ollie Smith appointed as assistant coach and ex-England prop Darren Crompton as scrum coach.
As if that wasn't enough today a further eight signings have been announced in US Eagles back row John Quill, Munster prop Paddy Ryan, Wasps back Liam O'Neill, New Zealander Tyson Keats at scrum half plus loans / dual registrations of England U19 wing Josh Watkins from Worcester, Bath second row Will Spencer, Wasps No8 Rory Pitman and Leicester Prop Tom Bristow.
With so many faces it could be virtually a new team that Moseley face compared to the one that came to Billesley earlier in the season.
Moseley will be looking to build upon the recent wins over Bedford and Cornish Pirates, which saw the welcome return to action of two Moseley stalwarts in Ollie Thomas, who proved to be as accurate with the boot as ever, and hooker Adam Caves.
Experience may prove vital if the men in red and black are to return home having preserved their seventh place standing. The continued good form of props Ben Evans & Craig Voisey along with second row paring Mike Powell & Greg Charlton will be key in providing enough quality ball to bring the quick footed Matt Williams and Simon Hunt into play.
Don’t doubt that Moseley will be hunting more than deer on the park on Sunday with Championship points firmly in their sights.
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