1st XV Match Preview V Hull Ionians (H) Fri 15/09/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

Its Friday night lights time again as Birmingham Moseley welcome Hull Ionians to Billesley Common. Firstly it should be said the club are very grateful to Ionians for agreeing to make the long trip for this evening fixture, we hope they enjoy everything about it, except perhaps the result.

Last season Birmingham Moseley managed to secure the double over Ionians but it was far from an easy challenge as the won 22-24 in the East Riding, via a 78 minute try having trailed since the fifteenth minute. The home fixture in January proved to be somewhat more comfortable with a bonus point 38-19 win.

Overall 2016/17 proved to have its challenges for Ionians as they fought to avoid relegation, eventually pulling six points clear of 15th place Blaydon to avoid the drop.

Ionians pre-season preparations proved to be positive with wins over Wharfdale 31-10 and Sheffield Tigers 17-36. Unfortunately they faced a difficult opening fixture against Coventry which saw them suffer a heavy 20-63 loss (you have our sympathies guys!). On the credit side they held Coventry close in the first half only to run out of steam conceding 38 unanswered points. Last weekend, perhaps still suffering the after effects of the previous game, the team went down 15-27 at home. 

During the summer months, in an endeavour to secure a better league standing the club has recruited, among others former London Welsh Premiership centre James Tincknell from Coventry, fly half Chris Bell from Huddersfield plus front rows Mike Bradshaw from Wharfedale and England Counties U20 player Will Dennis from Harrogate.

Perhaps the one of the greatest losses to Ionians over the close season may turn out to be one of Birmingham Moseley’s greatest gains in Laurence Cowen’s move from Brantingham to Billesley. Having impressed in the two clashes last season Cowen was one of the first players on Richard Protherough’s shopping list, and so far he has proved to be worthy of the interest.

This week Birmingham Moseley will need to restrict points scoring opportunities for scrum half Isaac Green, who finished last season with over 150, along with the stifling the try scoring ability of wing Sam Wilson who helped himself to 14 in the last campaign.

As well as focussing on nullifying Ionians threats the coaching team at Billesley Common will be looking long and hard at the reasons behind the heavy loss last Saturday and what can be done to improve.

It would be fair to say that Coventry were a very impressive outfit, but it would be equally fair to say that Birmingham Moseley contributed significantly to the size of the defeat. Often caught defending too narrow Coventry drew the midfield defence inwards creating large spaces to work in. All too often we saw wingers trying to defend against three opponents, having watched Coventry execute a clinical loop move off their midfield axis. Perhaps an adaption to more of a drift would have held the tide, perhaps not. Certainly the pack will be looking to collectively step up a gear or two this week, starve opposition ball, and start allowing our backline to show their capabilities.

We should expect a reaction from the players this week. Let’s hope they seize the opportunity to get back on track.