1st XV Match Preview V Esher (H) Sat 03/02/2018 

by Glyn Barlow

Following the disappointment of leaving Blackheath empty handed last weekend the team have the perfect opportunity to make amends when old friends Esher visit Billesley Common this Saturday.

Recent seasons have seen the two team’s paths cross many times in the Championship and National One the last being the trip in October to Molesey Road when Birmingham Moseley won an ten try encounter 27-32. The game was notable for Mark Harrison scoring four tries to equal the clubs league try scoring record. More of the same this Saturday will guarantee another exciting encounter.

Since that match Esher have enjoyed mixed fortunes with impressive wins against Blackheath 28-19 and Darlington Mowden Park 33-26 being tempered with losses to Cambridge 10-13, Loughborough Students 49-38, Caldy 15-7 and Rosslyn Park 44-37. Prior to last weekend’s 38-27 win over Hull Ionians the team has to look back to 25th November for their last victory, against Fylde 50-12. A 29 all draw with Ampthill earlier in January does suggest, however, that the team can still deliver a strong performance.

Esher Currently sit in 12th place, just 5 points away from Birmingham Moseley in eighth, meaning that this game has great significance to both teams. A bonus point win for Esher could see a rapid rise up the league ladder while Birmingham Moseley need to start delivering some consistent wins in the next few games to stave off the four teams all within a win away from them, and start to haul in the likes of Bishop’s Stortford and Old Elthamians just above them.

This season Esher have proved to be very adept at try scoring, their 12 try bonus points being the third highest in the league. Wing / centre Tom James, hooker/back row Billy Harding and wing Kariym Irving are all currently leading the way with three apiece.

Despite having lost last weekend at Blackheath Birmingham Moseley can take positives from the fact that this performance was a significant improvement over their 14-55 loss to the same opponents in October. Another fine performance from the pack came to nought as the team were unable to find a way to convert possession and position to points until a 79th minute try and conversion left them just short of what would have been a well-deserved losing bonus point.

The foundations for more victories have now been established in the forwards, who can stand toe to toe with any team in the league. Since the New Year the team’s defence has improved vastly, averaging just 15 points conceded per game compared to the an average of 26 points conceded in November & December.

The key now will be for the backline to find ways to unlock the oppositions defence. Achieve that and the results will start coming our way. Let’s hope this weekend sees the final part of the jigsaw fit into place.