By Glyn Barlow
Following the frustration of a four point loss against Plymouth Albion last weekend Birmingham Moseley, weather permitting, have the chance to make amends when they travel to Loughborough Students this week.
Loughborough provide a very different challenge from Albion, playing on an artificial pitch with a desire to play a fast, wide game they will look to counter Birmingham Moseley’s forward strengths with 80 minutes of running rugby.
So far this season Loughborough have struggled to find wins, currently sitting precariously in 13th place just one league point above the relegation zone. Recent weeks have shown glimpses of what they are capable of with a 15 all draw against Hull Ionians and a 17 all draw against Ampthill, pushing Coventry all the way before losing 24-31 and beating Rosslyn Park 37-15. All since the Christmas break.
Underlining the team’s inconsistency though, counter to the good performances in 2018 they also incurred a ten try 71-14 loss at Caldy in January.
When the two teams met at Billesley Common in November Birmingham Moseley dominated proceedings running out winners 36-10 in a six try performance. We should, however, dispel any complacency about that victory by remembering that last season at Loughborough Birmingham Moseley had to fight back from a 10 point deficit to hold on to a 20-29 win. On that day Birmingham Moseley made the mistake of being drawn into playing in a style similar to the Students, whose artificial pitch suits their open style of play.
This time around the team needs to ensure the pack starve the Loughborough backline of opportunities with the ball. The Birmingham Moseley backs much improved performance against Albion will be again required, as defence may prove key to the result. In order to contain the Students the aforementioned defence will need to contain free scoring wing Jack Stapley who already has nine in his account this season.
This week Birmingham Moseley will be hoping that if there is another strong forward performance it will yield greater rewards. There were understandable frustrations last week regarding how many penalties could be conceded in scrums on opposition line, with just another penalty being the outcome. Admittedly a yellow card sanction was handed out to the Plymouth front row, but it is difficult to understand how that then resets the penalty clock to concede penalties again and again at subsequent scrums. This is not a criticism of last week’s officials but an observation of an issue which seems to be driven by inconsistency of interpretation of how sanctions for persistent infringement are applied.
Let’s hope for a good, uncontroversial, game on Saturday and of course a win for Birmingham Moseley.
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