1st XV Match Preview V Bristol (Away) Fri 16/10/2009 



by Joe Heaton

Bristol v Moseley, at The Memorial Stadium, RFU Championship,
Friday, 16th October 2009, k.o. 7.45 pm

The revival of this traditional fixture has been very welcome to our members and supporters although on Friday evening the Moseley squad faces one of its strongest challenges of the Championship season! This is especially so at this time because last Sunday the Bristolians comprehensively beat Cornish Pirates 13-35, away from home.

Moseley last played Bristol Rugby in season 2004/05 in the old National League One when the latter won and gained promotion to the Premiership. The West Country club subsequently had four seasons at the higher level finishing as follows:

2005/06 11th
2006/07 3rd
20007/08 9th
2008/09 12th (relegation to the Championship).

The Bristol support confidently expects a return to the Premiership at the first attempt which is not unusual with the unequal assistance of the “parachute payment” to relegated PRL clubs. After six matches the club is currently second equal with Nottingham, three points behind Exeter.

The results of Bristol’s first five matches are:

4th October Bristol 26 Exeter 35
26th September Bedford 5 Bristol 6
20th September Bristol 36 Rotherham 10
12th September B’ham/ Solihull 36 Bristol 40
6th September Bristol 28 London Welsh 23

The Bristol team is now coached by Paul Hill, assisted by John Brain. Paul succeeded Richard Hill, whose long contribution to the club as player and coach is beyond compare.

Since relegation Bristol strengthened the squad, which already included the England U20 captain, Luke Evans. Best known to Moseley supporters of those who have recently joined Bristol are Jack Adams and Dan Norton, the former dual registered (with Gloucester) centre and winger, who made such an impression on Moseley last season. Prop Ross Johnson and scrum half Jason Spice have joined from Cardiff blues, as has No.8, Don Montague, from Nottingham

Moseley won the last three matches against Doncaster, Coventry and Plymouth and now resides in 6th place in the Championship table. The horrendous injury list, that blighted the start of the season, is now almost a memory, selection options have widened and competition for places in the starting line up has been increased. However there are still four players to come back from injury.

The now Bristol Rugby Club was formed in 1888 as the Bristol Football Club and the Gloucestershire county cricket ground was leased for home matches. The Memorial Ground was built in 1921. The club’s seventy- fifth anniversary was celebrated in 1963 and floodlights were installed the following season. In season 1971/72 Bristol scored over 1000 points and ended being crowned unofficial English & Anglo-Welsh Champions. The club came close to collapse in 1996 and Bristol Rovers F.C. moved in to the Memorial Ground in control with the rugby club remaining as a tenant.

Can Moseley win against Bristol and, if not, can the players bring back at least a bonus point to Billesley Common? On the face of it Bristol should be too strong especially at home although, like many games in the Championship at this stage, this could be close. However it should provide Moseley with a measure of the standard the team has to meet consistently if the club is to finish in the promotion, rather the relegation play-offs.

Bristol will come to Billesley Common to play the return match on 9th January next year. It is a fine club and as clubs, we have had some tremendous battles in the fixtures played regularly for over a hundred years. It is good to see this fixture back and the Bristolians will be very welcome at Billesley Common in January, whatever the outcome on Friday.



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