The Big Match Preview - By Glyn Barlow
This Saturday sees the very welcome visit of Doncaster to Billesley Common after the three week famine of home games there. And a tough three weeks it has been, with little to show for the team’s efforts.
Inexplicably last weekend at Meadow Lane, the Moseley players forgot their defensive plans and gave an admittedly impressive Nottingham back line an early Christmas present - or eight, in terms of tries! How this occurred with the same team that pushed Bedford hard and beat league leaders Bristol must have left Kevin Maggs and Craig West somewhat perplexed.
The Nottingham team had been rapidly improving following a poor start to the season and the club’s relatively low league position was not reflective of its players’ collective capabilities. However, this performance was not representative of the improvements which the Moseley team had been making. Let’s put this one down as an exception that the coaches will clearly not let happen again and focus on some of the positives.
The Nottingham game saw Brad Hunt demonstrate his potential which had been held back by some frustrating injuries earlier in the season. Anyone who can score a hat trick against a team of Nottingham’s capability will pose a threat to most teams in the league! Indeed the Championship’s current top thirty try scorers include three Moseley backs - Brad plus Andy Reay and Billy Robinson - with Mike Ellery in there as well. This reflects the installation by the new coaching team of an attacking capability greater than in earlier seasons. Putting this in perspective Moseley stands seventh in the try scoring table for the league which may suggest that, if the defence is improved, Championship points and more wins could come.
So what of our visitors Doncaster? The Yorkshire club currently sits in the coveted 8th place in the league but with a relatively comfortable thirteen points ahead of 9th placed team, London Scottish. After a very positive start to the season the last few weeks have brought a similar dry period to Moseley’s. Indeed before last weekend the Knights’ only win since early October was against bottom placed Esher. This trend was impressively reversed on Saturday with a 36 – 21 home win over Cornish Pirates which just shows the threat our visitors can pose.
Moseley will be keen to avenge the early season loss (29 – 21) at Castle Park, when a combination of “early season slow start syndrome”, a disallowed Greg King score and an interception try to Doncaster conspired to see Moseley returning home without even a point. Key to success on Saturday will be a return to the form seen in the centre where Andy Reay and Greg King have closed down opposition attacks with some effectiveness and delivered a potent attacking thrust.
On top of this the front row must continue the improvements seen in recent weeks and turn in a full 80 minutes performance of parity, or hopefully dominance of their opposite numbers. In addition the whole team must raise the intensity from last week and play with pace, ensuring the dangerous Doncaster backs do not get the opportunity to attack. A combination of tactical awareness, playing the ball deep into the opposition’s half, and then unleashing the attack would surely yield rewards.
With ten more games to go at this stage of the Championship, anything can happen, and the Moseley Faithful will be hoping that this will start on Saturday in what promises to be an engaging contest.
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