In addition to the joy of attending Esher’s Christmas celebrations, Moseley’s visit to Molesey Road on Saturday could be important for another reason. Not only are there four Championship points on offer but a win would provide one potentially crucial point in the relegation playoffs in which at present both our clubs could be appearing.
This season the Surrey club has found the going tough in the Championship with no wins recorded to date and the two points earned being losing bonuses against Leeds and London Scottish at home. Esher’s campaign so far though has been severely hampered by numerous injuries to key players, notable 1st XV captain, fly half and play maker Dave Slemen.
Despite this lack of success there have been glimpses of Esher’s true potential when pushing Nottingham hard last Friday before finally losing 22 – 34. But clearly being 16 points adrift of Moseley and Plymouth and a massive 31 points away from a top eight finish the Esher players’ thoughts must have turned to how they can survive the dreaded relegation play off farce rather than going for top eight security. Bonus points will mean nothing come the play offs and it is wins that will carry precious points forward. Therefore we can be sure that on Saturday Esher will be going all out for a win and nothing else.
Only recently there have moves to strengthen Esher’s squad with the signing of 71 cap Fijian star Nicky Little to cover for the injured Slemen. No stranger to Championship rugby, Little played for Bristol last season before joining his Fijian team mates at this year’s World Cup. An accurate goal kicker, Moseley must look to ensure he gets no opportunities to display his skills by giving away penalties. The Esher website has also reported that centre Tom Cheeseman, lock Ian Kench and props Ricky Nebbett and Will Collier are expected back as well, so it could be a very different team which Moseley will face on Saturday to the one which has been winless so far this campaign.
Earlier this season the two sides met at Billesley Common with Moseley being the victors 35 – 21. In a try bonus point win the Moseley forwards, and the back row in particular, put on a match winning performance in the second half. But what of Moseley’s chances in this return fixture? Well after last Saturdays significant win overDoncaster hopefully the train is back on the tracks. Certainly the defence seems to have found its rhythm again, withDoncaster unable to convert successfully a significant amount of possession into points during the second half. But needless penalties were still being given away especially when going forward and threatening to score. Also apparent was the tendency of our players to get isolated and their supporting colleagues were often just that bit slow to breakdowns to secure ball. All players will need to be 100% focussed from the start to win on Saturday
What is an important point to recognise from Saturday though is that, arguably, Moseley‘s performance was not a good as it could have been but the team still came away with the win. This was down to a determination not to give up, which combined with some brilliance from Ryan de la Harpe and Andy Reay, saw the win ripped away from Doncaster at the end. To be able still to get that all important “W” in the result box shows immense character from a side that had been so demoralised by Nottingham the week before. It is this strength of mind which should see more successes as the season progresses.
December is a month that could give Moseley much needed momentum into the later stages of the Championship. Let’s hope the Moseley players will provide us with a pleasant surprise behind the next window of the Championship advent calendar.
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