By Glyn Barlow
This Saturday Birmingham Moseley start their first home game in National One and what better club to host than our old friends from Coventry.
It’s probably a bit superfluous to say anything about our near neighbours, so close have the two clubs histories been. The local derbies, particularly the traditional Boxing Day encounters, have been something much missed from the fixture calendar in recent seasons. If honest we would have much preferred the return of games following Coventry’s promotion to the Championship but you can’t have everything.
For those of you who are new supporters to the club, or those of us who’s memories fail them, the last encounter between the two clubs occurred in 2010 during the days of the dreaded Championship relegation playoffs (mind you they might not have been a bad idea last season!). In the final match against Coventry Moseley won 37-5. Of the Moseley team that day only Adam Caves remains at the club. Ironically another Moseley player of that team may take to the field on Saturday, as Callum McBurnie now plays his rugby in a blue and white shirt. Moseley won three of the four encounters between the clubs that season, the one reversal being a 6-3 playoff loss at the Butts Park.
Since being relegated the club has spent the last six seasons in National One, their best finish being third in 2014-15. Last season saw a disappointing 9th place and led to a wholesale change on the playing side with Rowland Winter taking on the role of Director of Rugby. A strong recruitment drive has brought some notable names into the club including Canada’s record points scorer James Pritchard, New Zealander Boris Stankovich, South African Brendon Snyman and former Bedford Blue Brendan Burke, all as player / coaches.
In an almost complete change of playing squad Wales 7s scrum half Wayne Evans, Back Row’s Eoghan Grace from Ealing & Darrell Dyer form Ampthill, centre Tom Wheatcroft from Ealing along with former Moseley player Scott Tolmie have also joined the Warwickshire outfit.
The raft of changes seem to have had the desired effect as Coventry comprehensively took apart Loughborough Students 54-14 last weekend, scoring eight tries in the process. A dominant pack performance set up the platform for the victory. While it’s difficult to judge strength on one league performance clearly Cov will provide one of the sternest challenges this season.
The points total almost matched the 56-40 pre-season win over Welsh Principality Premiership opposition Newport, suggesting the team possesses a strong attacking philosophy. Other pre-season results saw a 7-28 loss to Ealing and a 47-5 loss in Jersey.
For Birmingham Moseley the monkey of falling at the first hurdle is well and truly off their shoulders following the 20-25 win at Fylde last week. The game will have thrown up a number of positives, not least the outstanding contributions of back row Jack Preece and the centre pairing of Alex Grove & Tim Molenaar. As you would expect from the first really competitive game of the season the coaches will have been looking with a critical eye at where the game plan was not executed so effectively and be hard at work this week seeking improvements.
A local derby between these two clubs will always be a hard fought affair and we can expect Saturday to be no different. The game will have a particular significance to Jacques Le Roux and Sam Pailor who have previously made 54 & 72 appearances for Coventry respectively.
To defeat Coventry the team will have to move their performance up a gear or two. Let’s hope the winning start to the season continues for Birmingham Moseley.
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