1st XV Match Preview V London Scottish (Home) Mon 26/12/2011 

Big Match Preview by Glyn Barlow

Boxing Day brings a welcome return to Championship rugby following a disappointing, if not surprising, B&I Cup result against Munster. Fringe players from a Championship team against the second team of the current Magners League champions and twice winners of the Heineken Cup. It was always going to be a big challenge.


As stated by the coaching team prior to the game, the B&I Cup was not a priority this season, with the final league position in the Championship being the only important target. To this end many of the 22 players who have started recent games were rested, giving other players an opportunity to press their cases for inclusion in the team for this week’s match. Unfortunately except in isolated cases, it has to be said that on the whole they failed to seize their chances and it would be fair to expect that, barring injuries, Kevin Maggs and Craig West will revert to the players who did so well against Doncaster and Esher.


The team will be going for a hat trick of regular season Championship wins in a row, something which has not happened since February 2008. More importantly the key objective will be to take four (or preferably five) points from a team in the same part of the league.


Founded in 1878 London Scottish has an illustrious history similar to Moseley’s but has had considerably more International players due to its close relationship wit the Scottish national team. It entered the professional era as a Premiership club but due to financial issues went into Administration in 1999. It started again as an amateur club nine leagues lower and it is a testimony to its members’ drive and commitment to regain its former status that seven promotions have been achieved in ten years.


The Scottish never thought it would be easy in the Championship and the going has indeed been tough with only three wins in this campaign so far. In an attempt to escape the bottom four places Scottish have made a number of recent signings including impressive Canadian World Cup flanker Adam Kleeberger on a short term contract and Cornish Pirates winger Ryan Westren who has been drafted in on loan for the rest of the season.  Also now at the Athletic Ground on dual registration are England Under 20 centres Elliot Daly of Wasps and Guy Armitage from London Irish plus England U18 and London Irish Number 8 David Sisi. In a further departure from being the home of Scottish players in London the club has also signed Argentinian Internationals, winger Agustin Gosio and scrum half Alfredo Lalanne both fresh from the World Cup in New Zealand.


Earlier this season our two teams met in Richmond with the home side emerging victorious by 37-21 after a disastrous and unacceptable first half Moseley performance. Although there followed an impressive second half, it was a case of leaving it too late. On the positive side the team has been able to address this in recent weeks, and one can be certain that an 80 minute performance will be on the cards.


For Moseley the objective must be for the pack, which excelled against Esher, to secure enough ball to unleash the potent backline. Couple that with an aggressive defence then real pressure can be put on the team standing one place and three points below in the league.  This will not be an easy fixture especially with the one point relegation play off point gainable from a win potentially being crucial at the end of the season.  One thing is for certain though, there will be a warm Moseley welcome for our visitors on the resumption of this historic fixture on Boxing Day and we hope that both sets of players will due justice to this and serve up some equally traditional fare.