By Glyn Barlow
Its Friday night lights again with a trip to Nottingham for the last away game of the season.
The question is will it be Good Friday for the men in Red & Black or Green & White?
When the two teams met at Billesley in November it was Moseley who achieved a comprehensive 29-15 win with Championship debutant Caolan Ryan the hero of the hour (and a half) scoring a nerveless 19 points with the boot.
The team will know that matters are never easy when you visit Meadow Lane. In seven Championship away fixtures Moseley have only won once, back in 2007 21 - 28.
This season it is fair to say that Nottingham have not been the force of old. Currently sitting in 10th place, and still not clear of the relegation dogfight it’s a long way from recent years. The turnaround is even more remarkable when you consider that Nottingham finished last season’s league campaign in second place and only lost out on a place in the playoff final by 11 points, over a two game semi-final to Bedford (who themselves have struggled to retain form this season).
It’s not just on the pitch that it’s been troubling times. Performances this season can probably be correlated to the clubs previous owners being unable to keep funding the playing operations at previous levels. The club faced the threat of liquidation at the turn of the year before being saved by the intervention of a consortium called the Friends of Nottingham Rugby who secured extra funding.
Since the turn of the year Nottingham have only won one fixture, but a very credible one against high flyers London Scottish. There have been a few commendable performances though, including a 24-25 loss to league leader Bristol and 20-27 defeat to Leeds underlining that on their day they can be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Nottingham this good work has been undone with losses to those around them in the league; Bedford (14-9), Jersey (twice 19-22 & 17-13) and Ealing (twice 27-28 & 37 – 35 last weekend).
Since the two clubs last met Nottingham have strengthened their squad with the signing of back row/second row Toby Freeman from Rotherham, dual registered wing Olly Woodburn from Bath and Scotland A hooker Alun Walker on loan from Edinburgh.
They join Nottingham’s points machine Matthew Jarvis, who currently stands second in the Championships list of scorers and key try taker back row Brent Wilson who has seven to his credit this season.
For Moseley Fridays game provides an opportunity to record their first double over Nottingham in Championship rugby. In addition they will be looking to put behind them the disappointment of just running out of time to haul in Bristol last Saturday in a battle of the David & Goliath’s of squad budgets.
A dreadful first twenty minutes, where they looked like they were still enjoying the previous weekends rest (or was it the odd kick off time or the shock of being on TV?), saw Bristol play at a pace while Moseley struggled to match, failing woefully to get into the right defensive positions to stop Bristol’s dangerous attack.
When the team finally shrugged off their lethargy it was a very, very different story. The second half saw a transformed team utilise the elements and at times put Bristol under relentless pressure. It’s pointless to speculate I know, but with the way Moseley were pushing at the end, another 5-10 minutes and it could have been a very different story. They would have rightly left the field feeling short-changed in not picking up a point.
Another fine performance from the Moseley pack saw the backs capitalising on possession. The high spot of the afternoon was Matt Williams solo try which must rank as one of the greatest ever seen at Billesley Common. With a wide pitch at Meadow Lane expect Matt to relish the opportunities that come his way.
If Moseley are to win at Nottingham they need to play from the first whistle at the same pace and intensity they finished with on Saturday, as we can be sure Nottingham will come out playing as if their very future depends on it, which it may well do.
No easy game but a great chance to sign off on the road this season in style.
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