1st XV Match Preview V Northampton Saints (a) Sat 23/08/2014 

by Glyn Barlow

After getting off to a winning start in Wales Moseley travel to Northampton for their second pre-season challenge.

Last Sunday was never going to be anything but a hard fought game against a side who had swept all aside last season in their promotion back to the Principality Premiership. To Moseley’s credit they emerged the victors 18-21 coming from behind at half time and scoring the only two tries of the game.

In fairness the result may have been more of a formality if Moseley hadn’t presented five kickable opportunities to the Steelmen which kept them in the game. It’s not unusual to see infringements in the first game as players get used to new patterns and combinations but this needs to be eliminated quickly before it becomes costly.

As is the case with friendly fixtures it is hard to read too much into the result. The coaching team will have used this first game as an opportunity to give a number of the new signings, plus a few on trial a run out, and wholesale substitutions will have had a significant impact on performance. The main outcome of the encounter will have been to identify the areas, under match conditions, that need further polishing before the Championship starts.

This week attention turns to Franklin Gardens for what is almost becoming a traditional pre-season fixture. In 2012 Moseley came away from Northampton with a 35-22 loss. On that occasion the Saints team included some faces that are familiar now in Scott Armstrong, Alex Woolford, Danny Herriott, Ryan Glynn and Will Hooley. In addition Saints current first choice fly half Stephen Myler controlled the game along with an appearance from soon to be England centre Luther Burrell.

Last season the result was much closer at Billesley Common with Saints just squeezing it 32 – 38. Again a number of players who were destined to pull on the red and black during the season were in the Saints squad including Alex Day and Ethan Waller.

So looking forward to this Saturday we can surmise that as well as seeing some new faces in the Moseley squad we may well see some future dual registered players turning out for Saints as they field the usual blend of experience and youth. For Moseley the game will present a true test of how the closed season fitness and conditioning work has developed as they pit themselves against a team who train full time.

Last week a youthful Northampton team secured a hard fought 33 – 28 victory over Rotherham.

With just two more games until the league starts this game should be crucial to any player wanting a starting XV jersey against Jersey. With next week’s game against Ealing being one where you would want to give a prolonged run out to the likely Championship starting XV the Saints match represents the last real opportunity for players to put their hands up for selection.

All to play for then and hopefully securing a victory over Northampton in the process.

For travelling supporters it should prove to be a rugby packed day as for Saints the game represents part of a double header with Leinster also visiting the Gardens for a 2.30pm kick off.