1st XV Match Preview V Old Albanian (A) Sat 11/02/2017 

By Glyn Barlow

This weekend Birmingham Moseley make the trip to Hertfordshire lifted by five league points earned from their match against Rosslyn Park.

Earlier this season when the two teams met at Billesley Common Birmingham Moseley were victorious 56 – 33 in an exciting thirteen try extravaganza. The game was notable a hat trick of tries from flying wing Ed Sheldon. Sheldon’s brace last weekend against Park underlined the rich form he has found, to see him leading the team with eleven to date this season.

Since the two teams met in October Albanian have enjoyed mixed fortunes winning just under 50% of their fixtures. Good wins against the likes of Macclesfield (49-15), Esher (34-43) and Fylde (32-17) have been tempered with losses to Blackheath (13-7), Ampthill (49-19), Rosslyn Park (35-17) and Darlington Mowden Park (29-35). Even in defeat though they have showed how difficult an opponent they can be by running Coventry (43-42) and Plymouth Albion (13-18) very close.

Last weekend they returned to winning ways with a hard fought 39-46 result at Loughborough Students, scoring eight tries in the process. Indeed bagging tries appears to be a forte having picked up a try bonus point in 50% of the games they have played. Leading the charge to the try line is full back/wing Nick Foster with 10, closely followed by England Counties back row Harry Bate with 8 and wing Craig Dowsett with 6.

The strike men are ably backed up by goal kicker Ben Palmer who currently ranks 8th in the league’s top scorers with 141 points, just a conversion behind our own James Williams.

Birmingham Moseley will probably look back on last week’s win over Rosslyn Park as a good result but perhaps not yet the complete performance. Clearly picking up five league points ticks the biggest box on any to do list written before the game. If we are being honest though, against a team that was as undisciplined as Park the job was an easier one that was perhaps expected.

That said Birmingham Moseley exploited their strengths well. The dominance up front yielded two pretty undisputable penalty tries. Then, when the time was right, the team brought their running game to play with perhaps some of the best creation of space for the back three to operate in we have seen all season.

Looking back to Saturday’s encounter, and in parallels with Birmingham Moseley, Wollams Playing Fields will have been rocked this week by the announcement that Head Coach James Shannahan will be leaving the club at the end of the season, after seven years at the club, to take up the role of Head Coach at Blackheath. So Saturday has two teams determined to see the men at the helm complete the season in style, should be an intense contest. And let’s hope for the odd try or two.