1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (H) Sat 11/03/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

Boosted by their away win at Loughborough last week Birmingham Moseley now steel themselves for one of the toughest encounters of the season when old friends Plymouth Albion visit Billesley Common.

The most recent encounter between the two teams resulted in a narrow loss at Brickfields in November. Leading 10-17 at the ¾ mark the team looked to have the opportunity to close the game out, but Plymouth turned things around with three tries, two of them in the dying minutes of the game to finish with a 27-20 result.

Since then Albion have maintained a strong campaign to currently stand in second place, eight points ahead of Birmingham Moseley. Leading the way for the club has been former Pirates fly half Kieran Hallett with 129 points along with try scorers’ winger Robin Wedlake (12) and ex-Moseley cup winning back row Dan Williams (10).

Off the field the club have undergone a number of changes this season with former player Dan Parkes being appointed Head Coach in May and then leaving the club in December, to be superseded by the aforementioned Hallett as player/coach. In addition Managing Director Michael Dunford resigning this week, after a month and a half in the job.

In recent weeks Albion have secured wins over Hull (26-7), Loughborough (18-20), Darlington (17-20), Flyde (29-21) and Old Albanian (13-18). We need to go back to the beginning of the year for their last defeat against Rosslyn Park (17-10). Just prior to this they gave league leaders Hartpury a fright coming the closest yet to toppling their unbeaten run, just being pipped 24-27.

Last weekend, following two weeks of defeat, everyone at Billesley Common will have been pleased to have got the season back on track with a bonus point win. Not that it was a clear cut result at all.

Birmingham Moseley started off trying to play a “Loughborough Students” style of game. A relatively loose first half, played at pace resulted in little reward for the men in red & black and a 13-3 deficit. By employing a more direct approach the team, driven on particularly by the efforts of Chris Brightwell, Jacques Le Roux and James Williams, held the Students to one further score while racking up four tries of their own to leave the (artificial) pitch winners.

This Saturday it’s reasonable to expect a very different type of encounter with Plymouth, one they will be very familiar with having played each other 23 times in the Championship. For starters we should expect that the second most miserly defence in the league will not yield points so easily.

Birmingham Moseley will need to be at their most physical, disciplined and creative if they are to start to haul in the men from Devon.