1st XV Match Preview V Rosslyn Park (A) Sat 15/10/2016 

by Glyn Barlow

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This weekend Birmingham Moseley players and supporters will travel to London with a positive frame of mind following last Saturday’s exceptional result against Cambridge. Coming off the back of the woeful display at Ampthill the performance was all the more impressive, although the first ten hesitant minutes may have had some worrying we were to see another misfiring display.

Instead Drew Cheshire’s opening try sparked one of the best performances by the 1st XV seen at Billesley Common since moving here. 72 points and 11 tries and the clubs league record books were being re-written.

This weekend Birmingham Moseley re-acquaint themselves with old friends as both clubs met many a time in the days before the introduction of league rugby. Like Birmingham Moseley Rosslyn Park came about from a group of cricketers looking for a way to keep active in the winter, founding the club in 1879 and taking the name of the cricket club.

Early fixtures were played at a number of London locations including Old Deer Park before the club finally settled in Roehampton in 1956. The club, again showing parallels with Birmingham Moseley, probably enjoyed its golden period in the 1970s when they twice made the finals of the John Player Cup, unfortunately losing on both occasions in 1975 to Bedford & 1976 to Gosforth.

Through its history Rosslyn Park can look back with pride at some very famous names who have played for the club including Prince Alexandra Obolensky and England & 1974 Lions tourist No8 Andy Ripley. The club can also lay claim for nurturing Danny Cipriani who developed through the mini & juniors up to senior rugby, before moving to Wasps.

This season Park stand in 14th place in National One on 9 points via one win and a draw, both results achieved in the last two weekends suggesting they are finding form. Last Saturday they drew 26 all away at Loughborough Students, following on from a 36-16 home win over Darlington Mowden Park. Previous games had always suggested Park were there or thereabouts having picked up three losing bonus points against Cambridge (19-22), Plymouth Albion (26-20) and Old Albanian (18-13). Clearly Birmingham Moseley travel to Rosslyn Park with any sense of complacency at their own peril.

While tries have been at somewhat of a premium for the red & whites the team has been able to rely on the boot of former Cardiff & Newport fly half Scott Sneddon to deliver the points when it matters.

Birmingham Moseley supporters travelling to Roehampton on Saturday will see a few familiar faces on display with both second row Paul Spivey and former Moseley captain Andy Reay having joined over the summer. Also making the move to Park is fly half Harry Leonard from Yorkshire Carnegie and Ollie Grove from London Scottish. Grove’s addition to the squad provides the intriguing prospect of sibling rivalry on the field as Birmingham Moseley’ Alex will be looking to take home the bragging rights.

Birmingham Moseley will certainly be looking for another outstanding performance like Saturdays from Alex, although it is fair to say we saw 20 such performances. If we were being really picky, and when a side wins by 58 points it’s really, really picky, there are one or two areas which will have left the team a little frustrated.

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While the majority of forward play was top draw the line out wasn’t firing on all cylinders. As this is an area that frustrated last season as well, perhaps they need to keep a simple approach until things start to click. The team will also rue allowing two fairly easy tries to be scored against them. While arguably they didn’t matter in the context of this game in a more closely fought match such lapses of concentration can prove costly. The really good teams are those who never let up, no matter how much they are in the ascendancy.

But let’s not dwell on a couple of minor points when the team served up a veritable feast of attacking rugby. Drew Cheshire & Mark Harrison underlined what a threat they are out wide with two tries apiece, and Mike Penn was a constant thorn in Cambridge’s side with his incursions into the line to create chances. Honourable mention goes to James Williams for an assured first game for the team, after stepping up from playing for Moseley Oak in Midlands 1 this season.

Of course every good backline performance is built on the play of the pack, and a dominant performance by the Birmingham Moseley 8 (11 if you rightly count the replacements) proved to b

The most noticeable difference in attacking play on Saturday, compared to the season so far, was the pace onto the ball and precise handling on display.e just the foundation for such a spirited attacking game. Second row pairing Greg Charlton and Aaron Crofts produced the goods in the tight, while also proving to be vital ball carriers. Crofts in only his second start in National One seems to possess Duracell batteries to run on.

This weekend it is vital the team use this performance to build on, without resting on their laurels, and hit the Rosslyn Park turf running. To succeed in National One the Cambridge game must become a turning point, not a glimpse at what might have been.