1st XV Match Preview V Worcester (a) Sat 29/11/2014 

by Glyn Barlow

For the third time in eleven weeks Moseley and Worcester will meet in competitive rugby with this weekend’s British & Irish Cup match at Sixways.

Putting aside any discussion of the pros and cons of the cup competition it is difficult to see the merits of a season structure that pitches two teams against each other with such frequency (as will be the case next weekend at Nottingham where the two teams will have played each other three times in seven weeks!).

Regardless of this Moseley travel to Worcester looking to gain some revenge for the 0-39 loss at Billesley in their last cup encounter. The youngest side Moseley have sent out at the Common were unable to contain their opponents in the first half. A much improved second half saw the Worcester attack closed down but unfortunately Moseley were unable to find a way through the Worcester defence and ultimately the scoreline was a poor reflection of the second half effort they put in.

Worcester currently sit top of pool 3 curtesy of wins over Nottingham 19 – 26 and Munster A 27 – 23 while Moseley are in third place four points behind Munster A.

Recent league form suggests Moseley should be able to put up a more competitive performance since the teams last met following wins over London Scottish and Doncaster and the narrowest of losses to Nottingham last week.

It is not good form to comment on the influence of officials on a game so we will not say too much about last week’s match. There are however aspects of their own performance that Moseley will need to address if they are to have a chance of success on Saturday.

Tactically the game was not played with the same precision as the previous two weeks, as Nottingham were allowed to play the game too close to Moseley’s line, opening up opportunities for mistakes to be capitalised on.

Positives can be taken from the game though. Mike Penn had another fine game at full back, growing in confidence with each game it will be an interesting selection headache when Anthony Carter is fit again. The second row partnership of Mike Powell and Greg Charlton were as industrious and effective as ever.

As is always the case with British and Irish Cup games the biggest influence on the outcome will probably be made before the players take to the pitch as each coach determines what their approach to the cup will be.

It’s not a large stretch of the imagination to think that Kevin Maggs isn’t targeting winning  the cup as a priority. The view at Worcester may be somewhat different as the opportunity for a cup and league double may go some way towards pacifying those supporters disenfranchised by a season out of the Premiership.

It’s likely Moseley will take the cup break as a further opportunity to allow key players to recover from knocks and strains while giving some of the squad a second opportunity to show what they can do. This of course needs to be balanced with re-entering the league campaign on Boxing day with all cylinders firing.

An interesting challenge for the coaching team but one they will be relishing.