By Glyn Barlow
And so we take a break from Championship action with the first round of the British & Irish Cup this weekend, as Ealing are our visitors for the second time in four weeks.
Being honest winning the cup will not be priority number one, two, three or thirty five for either Ealing or Moseley as they look to plan their accent up the league away from the danger zone, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t its own merits and challenges.
As usual the intervention of the cup into proceedings presents some interesting questions for the team management. Having found winning ways in two of their last three fixtures do they look to build the momentum and put out the same twenty two to develop further their experience of playing together or do they use this as an opportunity to give the wider squad game time?
It’s likely that any players carrying knocks and niggles will be rested to give time for some recovery so we are likely to see a few changes. For some like Adam Caves and Chris Brightwell it’s the ideal opportunity to get more game time as they return from injury. Particularly of note is that this will be Adam’s 300th appearance for the 1st XV, a remarkable milestone and achievement in the current era, and one that may never be beaten at Moseley.
The two teams met in October in the league where Moseley took the victory in a game which saw eight tries, so let’s hope for a similar free flowing match this time. Since this encounter Ealing ran fourth place Bedford close 21-23 at home and last weekend travelled to Old Deer Park for an exceptional 3-27 win over last season Premiership outfit London Welsh. Clearly they are striking a vein of good form themselves.
If both teams look to put out strong match day squads then we have the enticing proposition of Drew Cheshire and Kyle Evans opposing James Stephenson and Phil Chesters, surely four of the most exciting wingers in the league at the moment. Let’s hope for dry conditions and a willingness to run the ball from both teams.
Certainly that philosophy seems to be part of Moseley’s game plan with Evans hat trick last week against Pirates being a product of slick handling through the team and a large element of elusive running for his second score. With both he and Cheshire standing equal sixth in the leagues list of leading try scorers Moseley seem to be capitalising on one of the best backlines they have fielded in recent seasons.
That’s not to say there won’t be elements of play that the coaching team will be looking to improve. Having imposed themselves well in the first half last week Moseley failed to convert opportunities that would stretch their lead and then compounded it by sitting back somewhat to allow the Cornishmen to come at them in the second period.
Maintaining intensity and concentration for a full eighty minutes has yet to be fully achieved this season, the cup games provide the ideal opportunity to clear this hurdle.
This could just be one of the most entertaining games of the season.
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