1st XV Match Preview V Cambridge (H) Sat 08/10/2016 

by Glyn Barlow

 

Hopefully Birmingham Moseley supporters will have now got over the first loss of the season last week and are now looking forward to the visit of Cambridge to Billesley Common.

The last time the two teams met was in a pre-season friendly in 2010 when Moseley just won at the then Wests Renault Park 24-29 through an injury time try. The only survivor from that encounter in the Birmingham Moseley squad now is perennial hooker Adam Caves. Adam won’t, however, be the only Birmingham Moseley player with experience of Cambridge; both Elliot Bale and Tom Fidler have previously played for Cambridge.

The Cambridge Club was formed in 1923 and moved to their current ground at Grantchester Road in the 1950s. Very much a traditional rugby club Cambridge run a number of adult, academy and mini & junior teams. The club won promotion through the London leagues during the 1990s winning promotion to the National leagues in 2005 when they entered National Three South. Following one season in National Three promotion was again achieved to National Two.

The club continued its progress entering National One in 2010. Unfortunately relegation beckoned in 2014 and the team spent three seasons back in National 2 South until they again won promotion at the end of last season.

Probably the most famous player to come through the Cambridge ranks is ex England and Lions Captain Dickie Jeeps, although his fame is almost eclipsed by another Cambridge player Andy Hancock, scorer of that famous 95yd try against Scotland in 1965 (although he achieved this score while at Northampton).

To supplement Cambridge’s promotion winning squad new Director of Rugby Ross Stewart has drafted in a number of players including centre Greg White from Ampthill and centre/backs coach Adam Barnard from Peterborough. A new face familiar to Moseley supporters will be Back Row Tom Nutley also from Ampthill who made nine appearances for the club while dual registered from Northampton.

This campaign sees Cambridge sitting in 11th place with 12 points from two wins against Rosslyn Park 19-22 and Loughborough Students 35-34 last weekend. On the debit side they have suffered narrow losses to Plymouth Albion 23-18 and Old Albanian 34-36 followed by a 37-12 defeat at Darlington.

For Birmingham Moseley to contain Cambridge they need to stop the try scoring efforts of the Ayrton brothers Mike and James currently the leading try scorers this season for the club, each picking up one last Saturday against the Students.

And containing the opposition will have been high on priorities following last weekend’s loss at Ampthill, where errors and poor defence cost four tries. In addition to shoring up the defence and cutting out mistakes the coaching team will have been considering how a potentially threatening backline failed to really trouble Ampthill except for the all too infrequent times the ball went wide. Going forward it’s essential that the forwards are more dominant at the breakdown and the inside backs start to create space and opportunities.

Statistics suggest Birmingham Moseley are not yet firing at the levels of attack seen in this division, currently standing only tenth in terms of points scored.

On Saturday Mark Harrison and Drew Cheshire were two of the few players, along with the dynamic Jack Preece, to come out with any credit, as there seemed to be a general lack of pace and variety to the teams actions.

This weekend, in front of a home crowd, is the ideal time to get the show back on the road and play for eighty minutes like the team who scored 38 unanswered points against Blaydon.