1st XV Match Preview V Ebbw Vale (A) Sun 17/08/2014 

by Glyn Barlow

 

At last the waiting is over and Moseley embark on their 2014/15 campaign with a pre-season visit to Welsh Premiership side Ebbw Vale.

As ever these friendly games are hard to predict in terms of approach and outcome as both teams will be looking at the opportunities to try out new playing combinations and moves developed on the summer training fields.

For Moseley supporters a number of questions will begin to be answered. Has the club found worthy replacements for the likes of Matt Williams and Rhys Buckley in the likes of Drew Cheshire and Scott Tolmie? How quickly can coaches Maggs and Hilton integrate the new signings into the squad?

Happily we have seen a significant number of last season’s team sign on again so hopefully the stability will allow the team to hit the ground running. The pre-season games provide a number of the younger squad members such as Will Owen (a former Ebbw Vale player) and Caolan Ryan with an excellent opportunity to build upon their promising performances of last season and stake a claim for a starting place come Jersey’s visit for the first Championship game.

Moseley and Ebbw Vale aren’t total strangers in recent years having met each other in a 2008 pre-season game at Billesley Common when Moseley emerged victorious over the Steelmen 25 – 12, Adam Caves and Neil Mason being the only members of the current squad who played in that game.

The Gwent club was founded in 1879 and have had a very interesting history. In 1907 the committee decided to move the club from amateur rugby union to become a professional rugby league team. Unsurprisingly the RFU suspended the club until after WWI when the league outfit had folded. Arguably the club had one of its best periods in the 1950s beating the touring Australians in 1958 and only losing to South Africa 0-3 in 1960.

Famous names who have appeared for Ebbw Vale include Allan Bateman, Dan Lydiate, Denzil Williams and Paul Thorburn.

Moseley will face a current Ebbw Vale team on a high from winning promotion back into the Welsh Principality Premiership this season going almost undefeated in the SWALEC Championship (a loss on the last day of the season to Narberth can be excused in the circumstances) scoring over 1,000 points in the process.

If that weren’t impressive enough they scored 151 tries with only 20 scored against them. Flanker Ronnie Kynes leading the way with 18, but he was pushed all the way by Wes Cunliffe and Dai James with 15 each. The fact that the team won 13 penalty tries suggests that the Moseley pack will have their work cut out. Iain Smerdon proved to be effective with the boot scoring 229 points. The team will be led for a fifth season by Damien Hudd

It looks like Moseley will have just the hard test they need to set them up for a Championship season where they will be looking to improve on last season’s seventh place finish.