1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (H) Sat 09/12/2017 

by Glyn Barlow

This Saturday Birmingham Moseley host old friends Plymouth Albion, with the bitter taste of a poor defeat at Old Elthamians still in their memory.

Albion are currently riding high in 3rd place in National One, having win eight games to stand just four points behind Darlington Mowden Park.

Recent weeks have, however, seen relatively mixed fortunes with good wins over Hull Ionians 29-3, Ampthill 16-9 and Caldy 17-34 tempered with losses to Coventry 29-14 and Darlington 33-31 along with two draws against Rosslyn Park 26-26 & Old Elthamians 17-17.

Last season the two ex-Championship rivals reacquainted themselves with Albion winning both games 27-20 and 26-47. Birmingham Moseley will encounter a number of new faces in the Plymouth ranks since those fixtures. Wing Jack Arnott and prop Luke Chapman have joined from Cornish Pirates along with fly half Dan Mugford, back row Eoghan Grace from Coventry and prop Ricky Cano from Rotherham Titans.

So far this season Mugford has continued to underline his value as a points scorer currently leading the league with 135 (including seven tries) ably supported by hooker Rupert Freestone with 8 tries, possibly indicating an effective mauling game at close quarters.

Albion Head Coach Kieran Hallett will be hoping key back row player and captain Herbie Stupple may make an early recovery from a slipped disc picked up in early November, although there seems to be doubt over flying wing Jack Arnott who incurred an injury in last week’s win over Ionians.

For Birmingham Moseley this weekend demands a massive improvement on the performance at Old Elthamians if they are to have any chance of overcoming Albion. After a first 35 minutes that saw the teams standing on parity at five points all it’s hard to fathom how they could let their opponents score 21 unanswered points in just five minutes of play, particularly when Elthamians were down to 14 men for most of it. Clearly not helped by Greg King’s nasty injury early in the second half forcing Chris Brightwell into the backline, things continued to deteriorate with the home side picking up a further three tries before the final whistle.

This Saturday the team needs to cut down considerably in terms of errors, both in handling and infringements. Against a team like Albion, who are averaging over four tries per game, then there can be no relaxing in defence or it will be ruthlessly punished. That said Albion are not without their issues in regard to keeping discipline having picked up the most yellow cards in the league to date.

Have no doubt the turnaround required to win this week is considerable, but the team has shown they have the capability to perform at the required level. Now is the time to operate at that level consistently for the full 80 minutes and reignite their run of good form.