1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (h) Sat 05/12/2015 

by Glyn Barlow

This week Moseley face probably the biggest challenge of the season so far when league leaders Bristol are our visitors.

Driven by missing out on promotion over the last few seasons the West Country men are going all out to ensure they put themselves very much into the driving seat when it comes to securing a playoff berth. With eight wins so far they currently sit three points clear of last week’s opponents Doncaster who are one of only two teams to defeat Bristol (27-39), the other being Bedford on the opening day of the season (29-23). Unusually both these losses occurred at home leaving Bristol visiting the Common defending a 100% away record which includes victories over Cornish Pirates (10-40), Ealing (21-26), Jersey (7-24) and London Welsh (22-36).

So far this season its Bristol’s attack that has proved to be one the most effective in the league amassing forty tries, a quarter of them coming from a familiar face to Moseley supporters in Ollie Robinson, suggesting Bristol’s maul may be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Ollie his efforts have been curtailed as he has been forced to undergo ankle surgery and we wish him all the best for his recovery. In conjunction with Robinson’s efforts the boot of Wales Gavin Henson has proved to be a potent force yielding 109 points putting him second in the league’s top points scorers just ahead of Glyn Hughes.

Notable additions to the squad this season include former England wing Tom Varndell, second in the all-time Premiership try scoring list, from Wasps, back row James Phillips from London Scottish, Sale Sharks scrum half Will Cliff and Western Province back row Rayn Smid. In addition fresh from his success with Japan ex England captain Steve Borthwick has joined the club as forwards coach.

Last season Bristol won both encounters with Moseley by hefty scores

Sat 4th October 2014

Moseley

14 – 59

Bristol

Sun 15th February 2015

Bristol

52 – 24

Moseley

 

This time around Moseley will be looking to provide the sort of challenge that has seen the Common become one of Bristol’s least favourite places to visit in recent seasons. To do that though they will need to step up their performance to another level from that which saw them compete with Doncaster for nearly seventy minutes before the game, and any points, ran away from them.

Defence may be the key to this game. If Moseley can hold their structure, particularly in close quarters to the line then they will have an opportunity to push Bristol all the way. Whatever the outcome we should be in for another exciting battle between the two teams.