by Glyn Barlow
Stand back and let out a relieved sigh, the first phase of the Championship campaign is over and what a tough start it was.
The fixture draw gave Moseley a virtual mountain to climb with games against, what was perceived at the start of the season to be, three of the strong candidates for the end of season playoffs and three of the highest budget teams in the league.
It all came to a climax last Saturday when big spending Bristol arrived with eight internationals in their starting line-up. In fairness Moseley started well holding Bristol to nil – nil with thirty minutes gone. Unfortunately as Bristol ratcheted up the pressure something had to give. It wasn’t for the want of Moseley trying but Bristol put to good use their time honing plays and angles of attack on the training field to execute some telling attacks at pace.
There is no denying the quality of their players, and on first view they seemed to be significantly ahead of both Yorkshire Carnegie and Worcester in terms of performance, based on their games against Moseley. It’s highly likely other teams in the league will face similar results.
Moseley will take from the game some positives despite the score line. The first thirty minutes was probably their best start to a game so far this season, if they can replicate this then against most teams they will be in a good position to strike home and win a few games. Greg King managed a fine brace of tries and with a couple of impressive attacks being halted agonisingly short a four try bonus point was just missed.
This weekend the focus changes from league action to the cup, and a somewhat unknown commodity in Munster’s A team (but we believe BA Baracus will not be playing). The last time the two teams met was in 2011 when Munster secured a 0-29 win at Billesley Common. With only 6 of the Moseley 22 that day still with the club and the likelihood of even less Munster A players featuring again there is little to be drawn from this game as to how Saturday will play out.
As a team Munster A have played one fixture this season beating Leinster A 8 – 18 last week. Reports suggest Munster excelled in the scrum using it as a platform to attack during the second half securing tries from back row Shane Buckley (who made his B&I cup debut against Moseley in 2011) and Birmingham born wing Luke O'Dea with Rory Scannell adding the rest of the points from the boot. Typically the A teams of the Irish provinces contain a mix of fringe 1st XV players, academy graduates and players from local clubs being given an opportunity to press a claim for a more permanent place in the squad.
Undoubtedly the Moseley coaching team will be looking at the next three weeks of Cup action as an opportunity for some squad rotation. While not devaluing the cup it will probably be essential for a few players who have picked up knocks in the league to have time to recover before the Championship onslaught starts again.
Excitedly it could also provide an opportunity for some of the squad player who have had limited playing time to date to show just why they should be wearing a starting XV jersey.
Whatever the outcome we can be sure that players and supporters will be given a typical warm welcome in Ireland. Let’s hope the lads also use it as an opportunity to get into winning ways
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