1st XV Match Preview V Old Albanian (H) Sat 20/01/2018 

BIG MATCH PREVIEW
Birmingham Moseley v Old Albanian

By Glyn Barlow

Saturday 6th January 2018

3.00pm KO @ Billesley Common

This Saturday Birmingham Moseley look to regroup after the disappointment of a 42-7 loss at Darlington Mowden Park, a score line that was heavily influenced by injuries.

On the positive site the first half ended with second place Darlington Mowden Park being held to a lead of 14-7, and all to play for.

Unfortunately it all started to go wrong in the second half as first back row Chris Brightwell was forced into replacing fly Half Sam Hollingsworth, then prop Jonah Boyce replaced centre Tim Molenaar. Consequently the team played out the last 20 minutes with three props on the field and two back row players forming the centre partnership. During that period, not surprisingly, DMP ran in three more tries to post a score line that was more reflective of the last quarter than the three that had proceeded it.

Putting the loss out of their minds, and with forwards hoping this week they won’t by pressed into playing full back, or scrum half the teams attentions turn to our visitors Old Albanian.

A difficult season to date sees the team currently occupying 15th place in the league languishing in one of the three dreaded relegation places. Albanian are currently five points adrift from 13th placed Loughborough Students so a win this weekend could prove vital to them. Compared to last season when they finished in 9th place, winning nearly 50% of their games, then there will be no little disappointment and worry in St Albans at present.

The two teams met in the corresponding away fixture during September where Birmingham Moseley secured a convincing 19-38 victory, picking up six tries, including a brace for Chris Brightwell. Since that fixture Old Albanian have picked up three victories against Darlington Mowden Park 33-31, Esher 29-15 and Hull Ionians 50-28, along with a 35 all draw against Ampthill. The team will also reflect on the narrow losses to Fylde 15-16, Bishop’s Stortford 18-14, Coventry 19-21 and Ampthill 28-24 as missed opportunities which if chances had been taken then the season could now have a very different feel.

Old Albanian will be arriving at Billesley Common with a degree of optimism having last weekend secured the aforementioned win over Hull Ionians. In that game they managed to pick up seven tries despite playing 20 minutes of the game a man down due to yellow cards. Considering the team had only scored 36 tries prior to this game, it underlines a very impressive performance, the only downside being they allowed their relegation rivals to pick up a try bonus point.

This season former Loughborough Students centre Dan Watt has led the points scoring with 71 to date, while full back Nick Foster has touched down over the try line five times.

If Birmingham Moseley are to avoid a potential upset then they will need to clinically execute their game plan. The pack must gain dominance and if the team can exploit territorial advantages then a win is on the cards. If they play a loose game and do not keep defensive lines then Old Albanian can hurt them. It’s time for the team to make a statement about their abilities and intents, let’s hope they do it on the pitch this Saturday.