1st XV Match Preview V Darlington Mowden (H) Sat 23/09/2017 

by Glyn barlow

Following the first win of the season last week Birmingham Moseley now face a challenging visit from the league leaders Darlington Mowden Park to Billesley Common.

Following a tenth place finish last season Darlington Mowden Park have stormed into the top spot, with a maximum 15 points in their three fixtures to date. In week one they dispatched Loughborough Students 33-23 following it up with a 15-27 away win over Birmingham Moseley’s opponents last week, Hull Ionians, and completed the hat trick of wins at home to Cambridge 35-18 last Saturday.

While Park stand top of the table and Birmingham Moseley in ninth it is probably fair to say that the three fixtures they have played so far have been against teams currently occupying the bottom third of the league, while Birmingham Moseley have played two of the toughest fixtures they will undertake. On that basis league position is probably not the most definitive indicator of how the two team may compare.

Last season’s encounters though proved to be hard fought affairs. While Birmingham Moseley won the away fixture 7-15 they fell to a 19-21 defeat at Billesley Common. Having led throughout the game until the 70th minute a yellow card to back row Jack Preece cost the team two converted tries, and the game, in the subsequent 10 minutes.

As part of the build up to the new season Park have brought in England Students prop Alfie Barron from Hartpury, wing Chris McTurk from Barnard Castle, scrum half Matt Dudman from Rotherham Titans, fly half Warren Seals & second row Dan Preston-Routledge both from Yorkshire Carnegie plus fellow lock Jake Brady from Harrogate.

The re-acquisition of South African Seals has already proved to be a shrewd move as he tops the leagues try scoring table with 5 and points scored table with 48. Clearly a player the Birmingham Moseley back row will need to contain. Not that containing the fly half will be enough. Park will bring a robust set of forwards to challenge the Billesley eight including Lithuanian international prop Ignas Darkintis, former Newcastle Falcons back rows Ollie Hodgson & Simon Uzokwe plus Tongan international second row Talite Vaioleti. We are going to need a big shift from the big men.

Birmingham Moseley will be looking to build upon an impressive performance against Hull which yielded six tries. A first half, which saw the team play with excellent pace and precision, was admittedly marred slightly by the team allowing Ionians back into contention from a dominant 26-3 lead to cast concern on the outcome of the game right until the 78th minute. This week the coaching team will be looking for a full eighty minute performance of concentration and intensity if they are to continue to ascend up the league.

We should however, focus on the many positives that came from the game including strong performances from Sam Pointon, Chris Brightwell, Laurence Cowen and Sam Brown with Sam Hollingsworth proving to be an able deputy for the absent James Dixon, away on Army Rugby duty.

This weekend the opportunity to avenge last season’s home defeat, plus secure some vital league points should see enough motivation for the team to give a performance truly representative of their capabilities. Let’s push on and push upwards lads.