1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (h) Sat 12/04/2014 

by Glyn Barlow

After a well-earned break following securing five points in Jersey, and with it Championship Rugby next season, Moseley take on Bristol this Saturday at the unusual kick off time of 5.05pm.

Currently in premier place in the league Bristol are assured a play-off spot for promotion but will be keen to enter the semi-finals stage in a dominant position, so we can expect no easy game.

If there is, however, one thing Bristol will be keen to lose this weekend it’s their record at Billesley Common. In four attempts to date Bristol have lost three (30-25 in 2009/10, 33-27 in 2011/12 & 23-14 last season) and drawn one (13-13 in 2010/11).

It seems that Moseley always relish the chance to face the west country men at home, perhaps in part to Kevin Maggs’ desire to put one over his home town. Indeed the links between the two teams don’t stop with Kevin’s time at Bristol. Dave Hilton is a fellow Bristolian who was part of the squad who won promotion to the Premiership in 2005, Matt Williams joined Moseley following a season at the Memorial Ground and Moseley’s back row dynamo Olly Robinsons’ father Andy is the current Director of Rugby at the blue and whites.

Earlier this season Moseley made a post-Christmas visit to Bristol and suffered a 29-8 setback. On that occasion Welsh fly half Nicky Robinson put in a near faultless performance to punish any defensive half-heartedness. The score line did not reflect the fact that Moseley started in a fiery mood with an early try and were holding the home team to a 5-5 score for the first 30 minutes. Unfortunately a shorthanded spell just before the break saw Bristol start to edge ahead, a position they capitalised on in the second half.

Since this game Bristol have achieved comprehensive wins over Jersey, Bedford, Plymouth, Cornish Pirates and a crushing 82-28 result over Ealing in their last outing. Indeed we need to look back to the 1st December for Bristol’s last league loss to Leeds, although there have been close calls against Nottingham (24-25), Rotherham (26-34) and Leeds (27-33).

To strengthen their push for promotion Bristol have signed  Newport Gwent Dragons centre Adam Hughes, 20 cap Scotland flanker Ross Rennie and hooker Stuart McInally (both on loan from Edinburgh) plus Samoan international prop Anthony Perenise.

A tough challenge for Moseley then, but one they will be fully motivated for. Currently standing in seventh place they will be keen to open up a gap between themselves and Plymouth who have the same amount of points to their credit.

The nature of victory in Jersey, securing only their second league try bonus point, will have given the teams confidence a significant boost. The fact that all five of the tries scored came from the back three underlines just what can be achieved when the ball gets in the hands of the pace men.

As is always the case with winning teams the foundation of the victory was built from another fine performance from the pack, and they will need to be at their best to succumb the Bristol eight.

With the team enjoying their best season in the championship, and a number of key players already committed for next season, what better way for the rest of the squad to convince the management that they should be signed up than a win over the league leaders?

'Let’s hope the undefeated home record against Bristol stretches to five seasons in a row