by Glyn Barlow
Following a 31-14 win over Neath, to start the pre-season programme, Birmingham Moseley now travel across the border to visit Carmarthen Quins this Saturday.
Founded in 1875, and originally known as Carmarthen Wanderers, Quins gained promotion to the Welsh leagues in 1992 working their way up to Division One by 2000. Their rapid rise continued as they entered the Premiership in 2004. Despite a fall back to Division One in 2007 they have managed to regain and maintain Premiership status since.
Last season Quins finished 11th in the Principality Premiership one place above last week’s opponents Neath, winning 6 of their 22 games. A disappointing result following the previous seasons sixth place and having finished an impressive second the season before.
Despite struggling in the league Quins found the Swelec Cup more to their liking beating Newport, Bedwas & Cross Keys on their way to the finals, unfortunately losing to Llandovery 18-25.
A number of famous players have donned the red, amber & black jerseys in their careers including Roy Bergiers, Ieuen Evans, Stephen Jones, Paul Arnold (1990’s Welsh lock not our former player), Ken Owens and Rhys Priestland.
A significant new signing for 2015/16 was to be former Wales back row Rob McCusker from London Irish. Unfortunately for Quins his stay in Carmarthen lasted only a week as he opted to leave for a professional contract with the Ospreys.
A player very familiar to Birmingham Moseley supporters will be prop forward Nathan Williams. Having made 127 appearances in red & black Nathan was ever present for Quins last season making 29 appearances.
Last weekend Quins put up a hard fought away performance against Blackheath before succumbing to a 33-12 defeat. The fixture followed a 34-7 win over Welsh Championship team Newcastle Emlyn.
For Birmingham Moseley the focus on Saturday will be to build upon all the good work displayed against Neath, while focussing on areas that still need polishing. Crucially with a new squad full of new combinations game time together will probably be the biggest positive that can come out of this game.
In the credit side from last week we enjoyed tries from three wingers, underlying the attacking potential the team has. In the pack the back row combinations underlined the strength we have in the position, with Sam Pailor still to come. Scrum time proved to be particularly impressive with a strong front row showing. Early days to draw conclusions but it looks like Elliot Bale will fit into the role of pulling the back line strings just fine. It was also great to see Tim Molenaar have probably his best game for the club so far, which suggests that he now seems over his previous injury legacies.
One or two of the lads still on trial will have done their chances no harm on Saturday, indeed there may be a few squad/budget headaches for the management to consider this week.
On a slight negative can we suggest one or two lads up front still need a little more fitness work before their racing snake figures return?
There will have been a degree of frustration in letting Neath score two tries, so defensive drills will need further sharpening. It’s also probably fair to say that with the dominance of possession experienced in the first half perhaps the Neath defence should have been unlocked more often. But early days and this will come as players familiarise themselves with each other and the various plays called.
Birmingham Moseley travel to Wales this weekend with a justified optimism and a belief that they can take the next step up in preparing for life in National One. Let’s hope the pre-season campaign is two for two on Saturday evening.
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