Big Match Preview by Glyn Barlow
And so the B&I Cup returns after two very successful weeks of Championship Rugby for Moseley.
Last Saturday's win at Esher was of double significance. Not only did it provide five important Championship points but it also denied the London club a win and the one point which could be carried over to the dreadful pool C playoffs. This is an important consideration if both clubs find themselves in that end of season dogfight (a matter which is, of course, by no means decided yet).
The victory in Surrey reflected Kevin Maggs's hard work in developing a backline with true attacking credentials. This was underlined with a four try bonus point courtesy of three tries from the backs, plus Neil Mason adding one to ensure the forwards are not forgotten for their efforts.
As in the victory over Doncaster the week before, Moseley’s defence proved resolute, preventing Esher from getting back into the game after Moseley took control at the end of the first quarter. The pack once again rose to the occasion and laid the foundations for the backs to perform.
B&I Cup rugby, however, provides a very different challenge this week in the shape of the relatively unknown commodity of Munster A. The two sides met in a friendly at the end of last season when our visitors emerged victorous 22 – 34. Not much can be read into this result as both teams were coming off very tough campaigns, particularly in Moseley’s case from the “mini-season” of relegation playoffs for Championship survival. What is sure is that this week’s game will see a number of players different from those who took to the field in April.
The craziness of the B&I cup system this season is reflected in Moseley's presence in Pool 1 while Munster plays in Pool 2, but whichever club wins does not necessarily convey advancement above the defeated team even though both clubs currently have nine points each. A Moseley win could result in the Cornish Pirates current supremacy in Pool 1 being challenged. Moseley’s points were obtained in impressive victories over Plymouth Albion and Bristol with just one defeat so far, against Cross Keys. The Irish Province's similar playing record including victories over Neath and Ayr being tempered with a loss to the Cornish Pirates.
Munster A will be calling on a mix of players from the Irish Province's senior and academy squads plus players from clubs such as Cork Constitution, Dolphin & St Mary’s. This season young talent such as wing Simon Zebo, fly half Scott Deasy, Paddy Butler at No.8 and second row Ian Nagle are mixed with experienced heads such as Mick O’Driscoll, with 190 Munster appearances, and 98 times Irish cap Peter Stringer. With this blend of youth and wise old campaigners you can guarantee Munster A will provide a stiff challenge.
As for Moseley this match provides a number of opportunities. A bonus point win would provide the opportunity for further progression in the competition even though it is not on our list of priorities. Also the momentum of the last two weeks could be maintained if a decent performance is put on and this will be important in the post-Christmas period where there will be some key championship fixtures. In addition the match will give players pushing for places, or who have been showing potential, the opprtunity to shine while enabling key players with niggling injuries to be rested.
The seasonal fayre dished up on the pitch should be very entertaining and provide a fitting start to the run up to Christmas and with the excellent planned fun "off the field" including an Irish band and an huge crowd expected this is bound to be splendid day.
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