1st XV Match Preview V Coventry (A) Sat 09/09/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

This Saturday sees the short trip to our nearest opponents and old friends Coventry.

It is though the first fixture between the two clubs was in 1875, marking the start of a long and illustrious relationship which saw both clubs probably peaking in terms of success at the same time during the 1970s. Indeed in one fixture 18 internationals took to the field.

A fixture so steeped in history is bound to have a very special place in the thoughts of both sets of spectators and perhaps the only small crumb of comfort for Moseley supporters upon relegation from the Championship was the resumption of the derby game.

Last season’s fixtures proved to be a pretty fair representation of the rivalry with Birmingham Moseley winning their home fixture 19-14 while Coventry took the spoils at the Butts 26-23, via a 78 minute penalty. A 2 point difference over 2 games illustrates how close fought these encounters were.

During the summer months Coventry have embarked on some significant recruitment in an endeavour to better their fourth place finish last season. Said recruitment has brought a number of familiar faces to blue and white shirts with four of Birmingham Moseley’s squad from last season making the trip to Warwickshire, along with former forwards coach Louis Deacon and second row Niles Dacres who has moved from Plymouth Albion. To add to the feeling of familiarity ex Moseley hooker Scott Tolmie has also made his home at the Butts while Callum MacBurnie, Jacques Le Roux & Sam Smith have swapped blue & white for red & black.

In addition to the ex Billesley contingent Coventry have signed Tongan sevens international Anthony Matoto and back three player Waita Setu, hooker Phil Nilsen from Yorkshire Carnegie, back row Luke Narraway from London Irish, centre Sam Tuitupou from Sale Sharks and back row Latu Makaafi from Doncaster Knights.

During pre-season Coventry enjoyed wins over National League Two sides Broadstreet 57-24 & Sale FC 50-0, followed by a 17-25 loss to Rotherham Titans. Last Saturday they kicked off their league campaign with a 20-63 win at Hull Ionians. While the final score line seems pretty emphatic Hull managed to contain Coventry in the first half before being outscored 38-0 in the second.

Birmingham Moseley will be looking to build upon last weekend’s 21 all draw with Ampthill. Having tasted defeat against the Bedfordshire outfit twice last season a draw may rightly be considered to be a significant step forward. Its testament then to the attitude of the new squad that it was generally a feeling of frustration at an opportunity missed, rather than celebration, that pervaded the clubhouse after the game.

A strong performance up front coupled with some exciting attacking was unfortunately let down in the second half by missed tackles. If the team is to return victorious from Coventry then they will need to accentuate all the positives of last week and eliminate the defensive lapses to beat what will probably be one of our toughest opponents this season. This squad has the capabilities and resolve to do just that.

What a battle royal we are in for