MOSELEY: Binns (Bressington, 60), Sharples, Adams, Trueman, Norton,
MacDonald, Ireland (Lewis, 52); Buxton (Williams, 57), Caves (McMillan, 33),
Sigley, Arnold (Stott, 41), Tuohy, Mason, Atkinson, Rodwell. Replacements:
NORTHAMPTON: Spencer, Ashton, Clarke (Ansbro, 77), Reihana, Diggin,
Everitt (Myler, 77), Howard (Robinson, 65); Smith (Tongauiha 65), Hartley,
Murray, Lord, Rai (Hoy, 76), Tupai, Fox (Lewitt, 65), Hopley. Replacement:
SCORERS: Moseley – tries: Sharples (2); conversion: MacDonald;
penalties: Stenhouse, MacDonald.
Northampton – tries: Hartley (2),
Ashton, Reihana; conversions: Everitt (2); penalty: Everitt.
Yellow card: Sigley (71mins)
Referee: Dale Newitt
MOSELEY PAY THE PENALTY - Sunday Mercury
Late woe after brave effort against leaders
A PENALTY deep in injury time denied Moseley a deserved bonus point from an
enthralling clash with league leaders Northampton. Moseley's hopes of
securing something from the match looked dashed when prop Terry Sigley was
sinbinned ten minutes from the final whistle but they continued to frustrate
the visitors until the last-gasp kick.
It was the home side who scored
first, replacement Neil Stenhouse kicking the opening points with a third
minute penalty. The experienced Nottingham fly-half, who arrived at
Billesley Common on loan in midweek, had only been on the pitch a matter of
seconds to cover for Greg MacDonald who was receiving treatment for a cut.
But the alarm bells were ringing when Saints hit back in style on ten
minutes. A penalty kicked to the corner saw the visitors pile pressure on
the Moseley line. Solid defending kept them at bay until skipper Bruce Reihana found the gap to dive through.
Barry Everitt kicked the extras to hand his side an 8-3 advantage.
And it could have been worse when, straight from the re-start, Saints ran
the ball 80 metres back upfield only for a knock-on to deny them a second
With the Moseley defence outstanding, all
of Northampton's pressure counted for nothing. Instead, it was the home side
that regained the lead on 29 minutes with a try of their own.
A line-out on the left was won and when the ball was passed swiftly through
the back, Charlie Sharples was on hand to squirm through two tackles and
touch down in the corner.
Errors were creeping into the visitor's game as Moseley and the gale force
wind in their faces continued to frustrate them.
A certain try was missed six minutes before the break when, with an overlap,
Carlos Spencer's loose pass was knocked on by winger Chris Ashton.
The half finished on a high for the home side as they shoved the Saints off
their own scrum and were then awarded a penalty which Greg MacDonald duly
slotted over to secure an 11-7 interval lead.
With the wind at their backs in the second half, the travelling Northampton
fans sensed a convincing win.
But Moseley tactics of keeping the ball tight ensured there was little space
for the visitors to work in.
They bagged a second try eight minutes into the half when Dylan Hartley
drove through from the back of a scrum.
But the home side responded in style with a try just two minutes later. A
loose pass from the visitors was snatched by winger Sharples who ran half
the length of the field to touch down between the posts allowing MacDonald
the easiest of conversions.
Hartley bagged a second try on the hour, finding a way in at the corner
following more concerted pressure from the Saints, and it looked as though
the visitors would take control.
They secured a fourth ‘bonus' try with five minutes to go when Ashton went
over by which time Sigley's sin-binning had left Moseley short of numbers.
Valuable But the most sickening blow came in injury time when the referee
spotted a hand in the ruck and Everitt slotted over the kick that denied the
home side a valuable point.
The last action saw flying Moseley winger Dan Norton just beaten to the ball
by Ashton as the pair raced for a MacDonald kick to the corner.
Saints find no worship at Moseley -
As the gale force wind swept the length of the Billesley Common pitch, few
in the crowd could have envisaged what a riveting game of rugby they were
about to see.
The all-conquering Northampton Saints, cheered by their legion of
supporters, appeared stunned by Moseley's dogged determination and a
never-say-die attitude that had them taking the game to their table-topping
visitors in the final seconds.
Any thoughts they harboured about strolls in the park - albeit a rather
blustery one - were soon forgotten as their hosts piled the pressure on from
the first whistle to the last.
Had it not been for prop Terry Sigley's late yellow card and a hand in the
ruck that gifted the visitors three points, Moseley head coach Ian Smith
would have been celebrating a bonus point.
"We have made some pretty important strides from the first four or five
weeks [of the season] and in the end I was disappointed not to get a point
out of it," Smith admitted.
"The fact that we got a yellow card late on and that decision to put a hand
in at the end meant we paid the penalty, quite literally.
"We let ourselves down a little after all the hard work the team had done up
to that point.
Once we were a man down they scored a try and then gave another penalty away
at the end eight points in a ten-minute spell which cost us a point.
"The first 40 minutes wasn't that great from our point of view. The
organisation was good in defence but the tackling was poor.
"We discussed things at half-time and then came out and had a good crack at
it. It was very much in our hands. It wasn't pretty but in those conditions
it is important to keep your discipline and, unfortunately we didn't do
"It was a tight game but we knew Northampton were never going to be able to
cut loose in those conditions."
And what a tight game it was, with Moseley holding a slender four-point lead
at the end of a first half that saw them utilise the wind at their backs.
Neil Stenhouse, on as a blood replacement, kicked an early penalty with
Charlie Sharples adding a try on the half-hour before the patched-up Greg
MacDonald kicked a penalty just before the break.
For Northampton, skipper Bruce Reihana found a gap in the home defence,
Barry Everitt kicking the conversion.
When Dylan Hartley dived over for a second Saints score eight minutes after
the break, it looked as though the visitors had weathered the storm and were
set to show their class.
But a loose pass was picked off by Sharples on halfway and his pace took him
clear as Moseley restored their four-point cushion.
The home side's game plan may not have made for entertaining viewing but it
certainly gave the league leaders a few anxious moments as they struggled to
get their hands on the ball.
Hooker Hartley ploughed through for his second try on the hour but it wasn't
until the final stages, and with Sigley off the pitch, that Northampton
snatched the bonus point away.
Chris Ashton bagged a fourth try in the corner with Everitt slotting over a
Injury time saw Moseley finish with a flourish and, in a bid to salvage
something, Dan Norton was inches away from reaching MacDonald's clever kick
through, Ashton winning the chase to further torment the Billesley Common
"It was never going to be a classic end-to-end rugby game but you have to
play the conditions," Smith added. "It is all part of the learning process
for some of these lads."