By Mike Pollock
It’s the battle of the Comeback Kids this Saturday when Moseley entertains Nottingham at Billesley.
Both teams showed great character after going heavily behind in their respective matches last weekend. Moseley surged back from 24-5 down just before half-time against Cornish Pirates to earn a well merited 27-27 draw. A dominant second half performance even meant that the home team could – perhaps should – have snatched victory.
Nottingham faced a 9-23 deficit to Bedford Blues well into the second half, but scored three quick tries to take a 26-23 lead, only to concede a heartbreaking late try to slip behind 26-28. Even then the Green and Whites had a final penalty that could have won it.
TheNottinghamteam should certainly be well prepared for stern opposition – in the final two pre-season games the side matched up against Premiership teams Harlequins and Leicester Tigers, losing 47-10 and 32-10, respectively.
For their part, the Moseley players more than lived up to the pledge of new head coachKevin Maggsto encourage a more expansive game this season - and in doing so, the team posed questions for the Pirates throughout.
Maggs and forwards coachCraig Westmust have been particularly heartened by the way the team has gelled so early in the season and the quality of the subs coming off the bench. Some of these players - and some not perhaps even in their original 22 - are quite capable of staking a claim to be in the starting line-up. An encouraging sign of Moseley’s increased depth of squad this season.
The team showed superb fitness, too, with a dynamic 80 minute performance. All credit to newly appointed strength and conditioning coach Chris Kemp – formerly with Leicester Tigers - and the hard work the squad has put in during the summer.
The players will need to carry that playing fitness and flair into this Saturday’s encounter withNottingham. Like Pirates last Saturday,Nottingham’s expectations are high this season with ambitious plans perhaps to challenge for the Premiership.
Glen Delaney, Nottingham’s astute Director of Rugby, (this compliment must be right as we know Glen is an avid reader of Moseley Matters! – Ed) recruited heavily during the close season with more than a dozen new players, including ex-England international centre Ayoola Erinle, the former Wasps and Leicester Tigers star, and fly half Kieran Hallett from Plymouth Albion.
To that extent theNottinghamteam is still a bit of an unknown, but Moseley supporters are already buoyed by what they saw of their own new-look team last weekend. Postings on the club’s were ebullient: ‘We showed we have steel’; ‘Brilliant afternoon’; ‘Unbelievable start to the season. I saw passion, self belief, commitment and tries’; ‘Outstanding today. This level of commitment must be kept up and, if it can be, this could be the best season for years’; ‘Our best performance since the cup final’;
‘What a great afternoon at Moseley yesterday. Well worth the pre season wait’; ‘An excellent spirited performance from the lads yesterday and just what Maggs had called for in his pre game comments with the lads responding’; ‘Great game of rugby to watch, what an advert for Championship League.’
That’s some collective accolade, and well merited for an outstanding team performance. But let’s not get carried away – the regulation part of the season is about consistency over 22 matches.
The Moseley management team has undeniably set the bar high, but the players know that they need to focus on achieving that level of skill and commitment week in, week out.
This Saturday would be a good time to carry on the great start!
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