1st XV Match Preview V Leeds (Away) Sun 16/10/2011 

 

Sunday sees a return to fixtures against Leeds after two seasons of them playing in the Premiership.

 

As any Moseley supporter will remember our last encounter with Leeds was one of the most famous days in the clubs history. The 23 – 18 victory that saw the team lift the EDF trophy at Twickenham provided one of the great cup upsets where top of the table Leeds were expected by many to achieve a league and cup double.

 

The brief stay in the Premiership has proved to be an unhappy one for Leeds only managing to achieve 10th place in 2009/10 and then being unable to improve on this last season, finishing bottom on the same number of points as Newcastle.

 

During Leeds last stay in, what was then, National League 1 they found it pretty easy going winning 28 of their 30 games. This season they have found it much harder. To date they lie 1 place above Moseley in the league. Victories over Bristol & London Scottish have been countered by losses to Doncaster, London Welsh, Rotherham and a 52 – 10 defeat at Cornish Pirates.

 

The difficult start to the season may be due to the many changes of staff particularly in the coaching team where Head Coach Neil Back has joined National League 3 Midlands club Rugby Lions. Along with the departure of Back on the playing front internationals Hendre Fourie, Steve Thompson and captain Marco Wentzel are amongst 21 players have moved on this season.

 

A number of new signings have been made during the close season including Fly Half Joe Ford from Northampton, Leicester Back Row Dan Hemingway, Stevie McColl a Full Back from Doncaster, Back Row Ryan Burrows from Rotherham and David Young ex Edinburgh Tight Head Prop. These signings are supplemented by the promotion of 13 players from the clubs Academy. It is only to be expected that a relatively young squad will take some time to adjust to rugby at this level.

 

And what of Moseley? Well there are parallels with Leeds in that bringing together a squad with a significant number of new faces is proving to be a challenge. As yet we have only seen sporadic examples of the clear potential the players have. Of particular disappointment last Saturday was that the team again failed to compete in the first 40 minutes.

 

On a positive front it was a very welcome return for Chevvy Pennycook who certainly did not look like he was starting the season two months behind his teammates as he put in his usual industrious display, that coupled with a further performance of power and determination from Neil Mason should set the right example for their teammates to follow. If the other 13 players on the pitch can match this intensity the results must come.

 

Wednesday saw a glimmer of light as the team competed from the off and walked away from Bristol with a deserved B&I cup win. A number of players pushed themselves forward into the coaches’ consideration for a Championship start this week. Of most note was how combinations started to work together effectively, situation that must be built on this week.

 

So with only one point separating the teams on Sunday there is no better opportunity for Moseley to start the climb back up the division.