Moseley 6 London Welsh 13 - March 1st 2008
MOSELEY: Bressington; Sharples, Hayes, Trueman, Norton; Stenhouse, (Cox 40) Taylor; (Lewis 60) Williams N (Bayliss), McMillan (Caves), Buxton, Tuohy, Arnold (Pendlebury), Mason, Bignell (Atkinson), Rodwell. Replacement: Evans,
WELSH: Sampson; Best, Taylor, Mackey, Tagicakibau; Jones, Chilten; Williams D, Buckland, Liffchak, Lewaravu, Quigley, Mills, Lee, Cox. Replacements: Doran-Jones, Burke, Kwasnicki, Nicholls, Marks, Jewell.
SCORERS: Moseley – penalties: Stenhouse (2).
Welsh – tries: Jones; conversion: Jones; penalties: Jones (2).
Referee: Mr D Newitt (RFU)
Moseley bullied into submission
Not for the first time this season Moseley found themselves overpowered on their own patch by the sort of team they must routinely beat if they are to ever threaten the upper echelons of National One.
That is not to say this defeat was as thorough or surprising as the one administered by Newbury last October. But it was comprehensive nonetheless and the fact they failed to cross an opponents' try line for the first time in nearly three months suggested this is a side that still requires considerable upholstering.
Nowhere more so than in the front row where the trio of Nathan Williams, Ross McMillan and Ben Buxton found themselves bullied by their opposite numbers and powerless to prevent the opposition scrum from taking liberties.
It must be said in their defence that Moseley should have been protected more by referee Dale Newitt who seemed utterly oblivious to the fact Welsh were not just engaging harder but also pushing before the ball was put in.
As a result the feeding of Exiles' scrum half Allen Chilten was more crooked than the throwing in of his hooker James Buckland and that's saying something.
But Mose head coach Ian Smith would not hide behind the official's laxity as an excuse: "They probably were pushing too early but that's because we weren't hitting them as hard and were allowing them too. If the referee's not going to do something about it, we have to."
While it is true they were powerless to stop Newitt's location of the offside line - Welsh defenders cheated horrendously at times they should have followed suit instead of complaining bitterly. In such situations fire is best fought with fire.
Yet the men most suited to do just that were absent. Terry Sigley's value was never more apparent than on Saturday and even the relatively raw talent of Jack Forster would have improved things on the tighthead side.
Both were grooming their Premiership ambitions and so the mountainous visiting loosehead Dorrian Williams was left to have fun and enforce more shape on proceedings than a man of his physique possibly should.
To their credit, when they were truly up against it, facing a series of five metre scrums and trailing 10-6 with an hour gone, they did not buckle. Race backwards yes, but buckle no.
After ten minutes sat on their own line they eventually managed to disrupt the wheel and hack clear; Smith was right to laud that defensive effort by describing it as "stoic defending".
He was also right when he suggested the visitors should have harvested more points from their physical supremacy - only three of Matt Jones' 13 points were actually attributable to his side's scrummaging.
Indeed more than half of them, the seven awarded for his first-half converted try, were entirely down to the hosts' generosity.
Having just gone 3-0 up through Neil Stenhouse's penalty they botched the kick off and couldn't contain the charge of marauding lock Ratu Lewaravu who did well to make 20 hard metres before off-loading to his, and Moseley's former, fly half.
Jones marked his return to Billesley Common with this opportunistic try, though it was also easy to see why Smith decided to relieve him of his obligation halfway through a six month contract earlier in the campaign.
If rugby matches are won up front it is the fly half who has most say in the margin of victory and Jones' failure to energise his threequarters or make especially good use of a strong wind, was instructive in the extreme.
But before they pat themselves on the back too hard Stenhouse and his half time replacement Tommy Hayes needn't reflect with too much pride.
Stenhouse kicked for position reasonably well before departing at the break but he murdered an excellent opportunity in the 33rd minute with a straightforward pass that sailed behind Gary Trueman.
And when Hayes stepped into the role for the second period, too often his dancing feet only jigged him into the clutches of defenders.
When Dave Lewis replaced Gareth Thomas at scrum half, possession sped up but several more decent chances were squandered by poor handling or delivery down the line.
As the game moved towards full time Mose had two openings, the first created by Lewis and Hayes but knocked on by Williams and the second fumbled forward by Trueman.
That left Jones to land a second penalty a minute into added time and ensured the Londoners left with the reward they deserved.
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