Moseley Colts went in to this game knowing their unbeaten record for the season was on the line, coming up against the unbeaten Northampton Saints Academy,
Saints kicked off and immediately put pressure on the Moseley defence. With their speed and awareness around the park and they quickly closed down Moseley as the home team tried to play their way out of their own 22. On a day when any errors would be ruthlessly exploited Saints pressure forced a Moseley fumble. As an indication of things to come, Saints immediately capitalised. Precise, intuitive movement with the ball in hand and great lines when running in support gave them a well-crafted overlap and score in the corner. The kick was converted 0-7.
Moseley kicked long and although Meadows and Coleman got to the ball they were outnumbered by the speed of the visitors’ support play. Saints forwards quickly moved the ball forward and the backs fanned out as the ball was worked up field. As soon as space was identified by an alert half-back, the ball was released and quickly passed into centre field where the strong-running 12/13 combination eased through the defensive line and crossed for Saints 2nd try. The kick was missed 0-12. From the restart Saints again won the ball; they clearly had a game plan to work the ball up the middle in groups of 3-4 forwards before releasing the ball for the very skilful backs to expose the gaps and space to score again 0-19.
The third score appeared to briefly galvanise Moseley and a spell of decent pressure on the visitors followed. The Moseley scrum, which worked hard all afternoon and competed admirably against a very good Saints pack, won a penalty on 20 minutes which Dave Brazier took quickly to feed winger Curtis Wellington. Wellington outflanked his opposite number, sprinting down the line and was odds-on to score. However as the Saints winger came back at him, a high tackle was adjudged to have been made and as Wellington fumbled the ball in the process of touching down, a penalty try was awarded, which Ben Morgan gratefully converted.
Moseley now had the belief that they could compete with their opponents and started to get their game going. Against top class opposition however, any mistakes are punished and following a number of errors Saints ran in 4 more tries before half time. All resulted from missed tackles or a lack of precision in ball retention. At half time the score was 7-48.
The second half started with Morgan placing a kick beyond the Saints forwards, giving the Moseley chasers the chance to mount a challenge to win the ball. Efficient ball protection and retention from the Saints soon relieved any danger. It was clear, though, that Moseley had started with a belief they could pressurise the Saints defence but all too often they were unable to break through the visitors’ structure. In their best spell of the second half, Moseley had an 8 minute period of pressure in Saints’ territory and from a good turn over Brazier found himself on the wing. As he chipped the ball over the oncoming defensive line to chase the ball over the line, he was obstructed and a clear try-scoring opportunity consequently prevented. On this occasion the ref simply awarded a penalty; a penalty try could just have easily been given.
In the same spell Jack Jones also had a very good break and was tackled just short of the line. With a bit more awareness with regards to his field position, he might have realised that an out stretched arm may have given him his deserved try.
As Moseley rotated the forward pack to expose as many players as possible to this level of rugby (unfortunately there were no back replacements due to work, illness and late cry-offs) play became somewhat disjointed. At the same time, Moseley’s errors were being mercilessly punished as Saints’ class began to really show; each mistake seemed to result in another try for the visitors giving a final score of 7-88.
The score line does not wholly reflect the effort made by the Mosley team. The major differences were in the visitors’ ability to force and then capitalise, on Moseley’s mistakes. Moseley had a number of opportunities in the Saints 22 to add to their score but just failed with the final phase. In similar circumstances, it would be a safe bet to assume that the visitors would have scored. The Moseley players need to learn the lessons from this game to take forward for the rest of their season.
After such a heavy defeat most teams would be downcast but this is a fairly resilient squad and to their credit, the Moseley team acknowledged that they had come up against a very strong, skilful and talented Saints team. It is very unlikely that better opponents will be faced this season.
Moseley Colts return to league action next week (17th December) when they take on local rivals Worcester. This match will go a long way to determining who wins the (Saturday) North Midlands Colts League. Moseley presently lead the league from Worcester by 6 points with 2 games remaining but with Worcester having played a game less it is all to play for. The game kicks off at 12 noon (on the Common or AWP) and precedes the 1st XV’s game against Munster in the B&I cup which kicks off at 2pm.
As ever, all support is welcome.
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