1st XV Match Preview V Old Albanian (A) Sat 30/09/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

Birmingham Moseley travel to Hertfordshire this Saturday off the back of a disappointing 17-31 loss to Darlington Mowden Park, still looking to really kick off their season in style.

Disappointment could be tempered by the fact that their two losses to date have come against the top two teams in the league, but you cannot get away from the fact that last week, like their opening game against Ampthill they squandered a healthy lead to come off the pitch without a win. This week they face a team one place below them in the league, courtesy of match points difference as both teams sit on seven league points.

So far this campaign Old Albanian lost their opening game of the season quite heavily 0-58 to Rosslyn Park, followed it up with running Ampthill close 28-24 and Coventry even closer 19-21 before a win finally came at Hull Ionians 26-36 last weekend. Clearly based on their improving performances you would be unwise to judge them based on league position alone.

Last season Birmingham Moseley achieved a relatively comfortable double over the St Albans men 56-33 and 7-33, it seems unlikely that they will have any luxury of feeling comfortable this season in what looks to be a hard fought encounter.

A major change for the club this season is the introduction of new Head Coach Gavin Hogg from Bury St Edmunds, the move will have tempered somewhat the loss of England Counties Coach James Shanahan who moved on to Blackheath. Based on performances to date it seems Hogg has quickly integrated himself into the club.

The main objective for Birmingham Moseley this weekend will be to play for the full 80 minutes without falling off the pace and intensity as they did against DMP. 17-3 up with just over half of the game gone you could be excused in thinking the team should have easily held Park at bay. It was not to be, however, as their opponents scored 28 unanswered points in the second half.

Admittedly Birmingham Moseley’s game plan was disrupted by a number of injuries which culminated in them finishing the game with two scrum halves on the field and a flanker playing in the backline, but this by no means mitigates the fall off of performance. Three tries in ten minutes just after half time exposed some unacceptable defensive frailties and ultimately broke the resilience of the team to stage a comeback.

Elements of enterprising attack and good tactical kicking were unfortunately no counterbalance for the lapses that saw DMP dominate the second period of play. This lack of an 80 minute performance must be frustrating the coaching team who are constantly witnessing a positive start to proceedings splutter and cough as the team limp to the last whistle. Even their six try win to date against Hull Ionians saw a 23 point at 55 minutes lead whittled down to 14 by the end of the game.

If the team can address how to finish a game as they start (while of course maintaining it in-between) then we should see the season take off. Let’s hope Saturday is the day things turn around.