THE BIG MATCH PREVIEW- by Joe Heaton
Moseley v Neath
Saturday 22nd January 2011
3.00pm @ Billesley Common
Another Saturday, another B&I Cup home match, another historic Welsh club at Billesley Common. Will there be another Moseley victory?
Last Saturday’s heartening win over Swansea raises hopes, but Neath standing second in the Welsh Premiership with an unbeaten record so far this season, will be a very difficult side to beat. This is especially so after the Welshmen recorded an impressive victory over Ulster in Belfast last week after being 17-3 down at one stage.
P W D L F A BPts Pts Pos
15 13 2 0 418 221 8 60 2nd
Neath is the oldest rugby union club in Wales having been formed in 1871. The first team is known as the ‘Welsh All Blacks’, playing in a black strip with only a white Maltese cross as an emblem. The clubs ground is ‘The Gnoll’, which is now shared with Neath A.F.C.
Jointly with Swansea, Neath owns the fully professional club Ospreys, which plays in the pan- European Magners League and Heineken Cup. Like Swansea, when convenient, Neath may call on up to eleven Osprey players.
The records of Moseley’s previous games against Neath, before the advent of professionalism and regional sides, make interesting reading, not least the footnote to the game at The Gnoll on 13th March 1970, which Neath won 10-0, explaining Moseley’s defeat: ‘Moseley were without seven First XV men, who were due to play for Staffordshire in the following day’s County Championship Final. Even so, Moseley were still able to select three England internationals’!
It will be interesting to see the side Ian Smith chooses for this match, for he has been varying his selections over the past few weeks, obviously seeking to determine the best combinations for the final four games of the regular Championship season and the playoffs thereafter. The fact that Richard Stott left the field on crutches in obvious pain at the end of the Swansea match, having come on as a substitute, will clearly be a key factor in team selection from now on, as he is one of the key members of the first choice pack although the latest reports state that nothing is broken and that the ankle ligaments are just strained.
Although Moseley played better against Swansea than in previous matches, and several key players showed continued improvement, the team as a whole will need to improve much more if Moseley is to have a realistic chance of beating their in-form visitors. They will probably match Neath in mid-field, but it is how they play inside the 22 metre lines, especially when on the attack, where the outcome of the game is likely to be decided.
Any repetition of the poor decision making and sloppy handling, that has characterised so many lost matches this season, will be ruthlessly punished on the break by Neath and any hopes of a follow-up cup victory will have to be put out of the mind.
Over 100 Welshmen from Neath have been buying tickets for this game and will be travelling up for the game. It will surely in a great atmosphere reminiscent of the past and one which the Moseley traditionalists will be looking forward to. Let’s hope on this occasion that the Moseley support, having a day off against Swansea last week, will come along and take part in what will be an entertaining afternoon.
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