1st XV Match Preview V Darlington Mowden Park (H) Sat 18/02/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

This weekend Birmingham Moseley welcome Darlington Mowden Park to the Common off the back of another bonus point win at Old Albanian.

Following the third five point haul in a row the team will be very keen to maintain the momentum against the team currently sitting in ninth place. They will however only have to cast their minds back to their trip to the Northern Echo Arena to conclude that the Durham team are nobody’s pushovers, as they fought hard to achieve a 7-15 win.

Since that game DMP have unfortunately only hit patches of the early season form that saw them achieve four wins out of their first six matches. Wins over Ampthill 14-12, Esher 48-31 and Old Albanian 29-35 along with a 20 all draw against Coventry have ensured the team occupy a solid mid table position with realistic prospects of climbing higher, looking to emulate last season’s sixth place finish.

Since the two teams last met DMP have made a number of squad changes. South African fly half Warren Seals was drafted in from Yorkshire Carnegie on loan to provide cover for ex Moseley player Caolan Ryan who moved on to Rotherham. Seals was joined by prop Joe Sproston on loan from Doncaster, Australia U20 second row Jack Payne from Llanelli, Leicester Tigers second row Stone Priestley-Nangle on loan, hooker Devlin Hope from London Scottish and Italian back row Luca Petillo returning to the club following a short break.

While Darlington Mowden Park have proved to be strong in defence this season they have struggled to score points, currently having the third lowest points for total in the league. Leading the scoring for the team is wing Adam Radwan with seven tries, followed by full back James Barnard, centre James Fitzpatrick and hooker Santiago Socino all on five. The aforementioned Caolan Ryan still leads the points scoring for the club despite having left in November. Fly half Joshua Bragman has stepped forward into the kicking duties and to date has collected 73 points with a 65% strike rate.

Last weekend Birmingham Moseley put in one of their most impressive performances of the season collecting a try bonus point before the half time whistle. While it is probably unfair to single out any one player from such a good team effort young fly half James Williams continued his rapid progress to have one of his best games in red and black.

If the team are to push for a second place finish in the league then they must target another five points this weekend, to allow them to capitalise on their game in hand the following week at Blaydon.

Despite all the comings and goings off field in recent weeks the team needs to put it all aside and focus on the job in front of them. And our supporters, as they always do, need to get behind the team and drive them forward.