Bristol v Moseley –
Sunday 12th February
3.00pm @ The Memorial Stadium Bristol
Big match preview by Glyn Barlow
Those longing for a free flowing, high scoring game against Plymouth were denied by the wind and rain and the fact both teams were keen for a win.
At this stage of proceedings bonus points for four tries are irrelevant and all that matters is the W in the result column which means one more point will be carried over into Pool C.
And Pool C it is now as Moseley’s distant hopes disappeared altogether on Sunday as Nottingham pulled out of reach with a win over London Scottish.
Friday’s game against Plymouth will have ticked a number of boxes for the coaches. The win provided fitting revenge for the last gasp loss at Brickfields earlier in the season although, more importantly, Moseley found a defence again.
After a few concerning weeks where scoring points was not a problem but preventing them was a big one, whatever Kevin Maggs and Craig West said in the week off certainly did the trick. In addition the late introduction of David Lyons after a lengthy injury lay off will have bolstered the pack as he played as though he hadn’t missed a game.
Of all the positives it will be the massive improvement in defence that will have been most satisfying as Plymouth threw everything at Moseley in the opening period of second half when Mason had been sin binned but the team stood resolute. Combining this rediscovered intensity in defence with the proven attacking ability that sees Moseley seventh in the league in terms of both points and tries scored bodes well for the run into the play offs.
For Moseley the challenge now is to gain from the three remaining regular season games as many of the three “win points” still possible to take forward to Pool C. However with those matches being against the three league leaders, and two of them away, this is no small task even though the Moseley players always seem to do a bit of late season “giant killing”, just ask Exeter and Leeds!
Sunday’s opposition is Bristol Rugby, a proud traditional club like Moseley, and one which certainly has not been standing still as the playoffs approach. Already in pole position with fifteen wins this season the West country men have recently been further strengthening an already strong squad.
One of these additions is Welsh fly half Matthew Jones who featured in Moseley’s squad during the 2007/8 season. In the intervening short time he has played for London Welsh, Worcester and Newport Gwent Dragons.
In addition to Jones, flanker Henry Vanderglas from ACT Brumbies, centre Luke Eaves from Newcastle and prop Mark Lilley on a duel registration agreement with Bath have all been signed.
This season the two teams met twice in the league and B&I cup. Moseley emerged victorious on both occasions with an 11-14 away win in the cup in October followed by a league win at Billesley 33-27. The magnitude of the task facing the visitors on Friday is reflected in the fact that to achieve a hat trick of wins, Bristol’s 100% league home record this season will have to be overcome.
The Moseley coaches will be looking for another big game from the pack to provide sufficient good ball for the backs where the combination of the in-form Andy Reay and Greg King are comparable to any centre pairing in the Championship. With the firepower of Bill Robinson, Brad Hunt and exciting recent duel registration signing Anders Morgenson to unleash out wide the aim must be to test the meanest defence in the league.
For the coaches there will be some interesting selection questions, all the more difficult due to the impressive form of a number of candidates. Will it be Carter or Hughes at full back? Or indeed Davies, Thomas or Hughes at fly half? Which of the now four available second rows do you start with? And with a number of other long term injuries coming to an end the cupboard is starting to look pleasingly full again.
Bristol must start the match as overwhelming favourites but if the Moseley players grasp their opportunities and keep the defence tight, as in the Plymouth game, could a hat trick be on the cards? Now with Bristol in the driving seat to be promoted wouldn’t that be a nice record to enter the playoffs with!
Apologies for those who read it last week but as nothing much else has changed apart from, hopefully, the weather, we are being green and recycling last weeks BMP!
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