By Glyn Barlow
This Saturday Moseley’s British & Irish 2014 Cup campaign comes to an end with a most welcome visit by Munster A.
Unlike many cup fixtures this match provides an opportunity to play a cross border fixture against opposition who will provide the challenge of pitting yourselves against a relatively unknown commodity.
The fact that this is effectively the second squad of one of the most successful teams in European rugby, and they are the team who won the B&I cup in 2012 means that this will be just the tough test Moseley will be looking for before they embark back on the Championship trail.
Currently Munster A stand 4 points above Moseley in second place in Pool 3 and a win at Billesley could see them still qualify for the knockout stages. For Moseley there is an opportunity to make a strong statement about their capabilities by stealing the runners up spot in the pool.
The two sides met in Clonmel in October where Moseley just missed out on victory 27 – 21, a last gasp Caolan Ryan try and conversion proved to be just too late in a game the team could have won.
To secure a victory this weekend Moseley need a repeat of the strong forward performance displayed in Ireland, but need to ensure they do not give away the unnecessary penalties which proved to be their undoing.
The team will have taken heart from last week’s win at Nottingham where a much changed, young, Moseley team secured their first bonus point win of the season. The game was significant for the return of fly half Ollie Thomas from injury, ensuring his name was prominent on the scoresheet. With Ollie back and GK IPA Player of the Month Sam Olver to choose from the number 10 jersey is going to be hotly contested from now on.
While Moseley were winning at Meadow Lane for the last time Munster A entertained Worcester in a hard fought game where a strong start was nullified by a second half Warriors comeback to secure a win 18 – 23 in the dying minutes.
As ever selection will play a big part in the outcome of this cup game. It would seem likely that Munster A will pick the best squad possible with the chance of progressing further. Moseley have used the last two weekends to give an opportunity for squad rotation and giving fringe / loan players a chance to prove themselves. A few of the more regular first XV players will be feeling some pressure following good performances from some of the younger squad members. The challenge for the management will be to decide if they will go for another week of mixing it up or picking a squad close to what they consider will be the best to resume the Championship campaign.
With nearly a two week gap between this and the next game, due to Rotherham moving the fixture to Boxing Day, there would be a long period for some of the squad rested in recent weeks to go without a competitive game. It would seem likely then that Moseley would wish to use this as a chance to get back into first gear against opposition who will provide a stern challenge.
With the festive season upon us, a beer festival at Billesley and the Irish in town this could just be one of the best weekends of the season.
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