1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (a) Sun 15/02/2015 

by Glyn Barlow

Well it was a little while in coming but the first win of 2015 was well worth the wait.

Last Saturday Moseley put in one of their best performances of the season to record a vital win over a Pirates team brimming with confidence after a home victory against Moseley’s next opponents Bristol.

The game had extra significance to supporters in the return to the Billesley pitch of red and black favourites Nathan Williams and Buster Lawrence. Both players wasted no time in reminding spectators why they were such vital parts of the club first time around. It’s only fair to point out they were just two of a number of players who raised the overall performance of the team significantly.

Ollie Thomas showed just why he can be such a threat at fly half with an excellently taken solo try and a great set up of Greg King’s score. Up front Ed Siggery, Chris Brightwell and Adam Caves refused to take a step backwards all afternoon.

With due respect to Pirates this week’s challenge must be considered a significant step up with a visit to Ashton Gate to take on the team many are tipping for promotion.

With only the one loss to date Bristol sit just one point behind Worcester in the table, having got back to winning ways at London Scottish last weekend. Needing just 5 points to guarantee a playoff place we can be sure Bristol will be looking at this Sunday’s game as an important one to win, as they look to keep pressure on the Warriors.

When the two teams met a Billesley in October Bristol ended the game comfortable winners 14-59. Despite an excellent effort holding the men from the South West scoreless for the first half hour Moseley’s floodgates unfortunately could not hold back the blue and white tide as nine tries were scored.

Since the two teams last met a face familiar to Moseley fans has joined in Hooker Ross McMillan, who made 26 appearances for us in 2007/8. He joins Moseley’s 2012/13 most improved player of the season Ollie Robinson, who after a slow start at Bristol has begun to make his impact in a star studded squad with 11 tries in 11 appearances.

Another significant player to have joined Bristol recently is back Tommaso Benvenuti holder of thirty Italian caps. Benvenuti offers significant versatility being able to play at centre, wing or full back.

For Moseley to have any chance of making it two wins in a row they will need to find a way to contain leading try scorer Auguy Slowik and the threat posed by Welsh half back paring Matthew Morgan and Dwayne Peel. Crucial to this will be fronting up to Bristol’s powerful pack which boasts Welsh Internationals Ryan Jones and Ian Evans.

As if these players would not present enough of a challenge this week Welsh international Gavin Henson has finalised a transfer to Ashton Gate from Bath and will make his debut on Sunday.

Despite the enormity of the task there are indications that Bristol may not be as invulnerable as it seemed back in October. In addition to the loss to Pirates Yorkshire Carnegie came within one point of a win at Ashton Gate in January and Jersey, Bedford and London Scottish have all pushed them close in recent weeks.

For Moseley to maintain the good form of recent seasons in visiting Bristol they will need to take the intensity of Saturday’s win and move it up to the next level. Let’s hope they seize the opportunity.