by Glyn Barlow
The first challenge of 2018 for Birmingham Moseley comes in the form of a trip to East Yorkshire to take on a Hull Ionians side looking to escape from the relegation zone.
Currently sitting in fourteenth place Ionians are just a bonus point win away from overtaking both Rosslyn Park and Loughborough Students so will certainly see this Saturday as an opportunity to re-launch what has been a difficult season to date.
After a winless September the team may have been forgive to feel their fortunes were looking up as they won four of their next seven fixtures with victories over Esher 43-28, Fylde 33-14, Cambridge 27-21 and Old Elthamians 27-11. December proved to have little to celebrate as losses to Plymouth Albion 29-3, Ampthill 45-17 and Darlington Mowden Park 26-0 were endured.
Birmingham Moseley and Hull Ionians met at Billesley Common in the early season when the home team made somewhat heavy work of a 38-24 win. Despite being 26-3 ahead just after the interval, with a try bonus in the bag, the men in red and black eased off the intensity and allowed Ionians to score three tries themselves, taking the game into the final few minutes before Birmingham Moseley’s sixth try put the result out of reach.
In that game Ionians wing Sam Wilson picked up two tries including, a fine solo effort, and he has gone on to be a potent weapon for the Yorkshiremen now having eight to his name, sitting fifth in the leagues list of top scorers. Chasing hard on his heels with seven is centre Joe Allott, underlining the fact that this is a team who know their way to the try line. Indeed Ionians have picked up eight try bonus points this season, the sixth highest total in the league.
It’s clearly not scoring tries that is the problem for Ionians but stopping them. So far they have let in 75 tries, the most in the league, at an average of five per game, although nine conceded to both Coventry and Loughborough Students skew this somewhat.
If Birmingham Moseley are to return south with much needed league points then they will need to put on a performance in line with the second half of their pre-Christmas game against Coventry, while banishing the issues of the first forty.
Even if one puts aside the appalling decision which led to the penalty try and sin binning of Jacques Le Roux, for what on video evidence was a legitimate tackle, then there can be no quibble that Coventry were well worth the victory. While the team proved to be a match for Coventry up front, and in the scrums even had the edge, unfortunately lax defence in the backline was again the teams downfall.
A positive, however, from the game that can be taken and built upon is a second half performance that saw the team score fourteen points to Coventry’s five. A much more accomplished display all round, with fly half Sam Hollingsworth making the most of his 30 minute cameo capitalising on the good work of the pack.
With only 2 league points from the last 3 games, and 118 points conceded, it is imperative that the coaches quickly find a way to resolve the defensive frailties in the team if we are to drive on for a respectable league finish this season.
Let’s hope the right New Year’s resolutions have been made and we start to see consistently what the team can achieve.
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