1st XV Match Preview V London Scottish (a) Sun 18/03/2012 

The Big Match Preview - By Glyn Barlow

 

Moseley will go into round two of the playoffs this Sunday from the rather unusual position of having won a first game in a relegation play off. Over the last two seasons the team has normally given its supporters, and I am sure the management, an early scare before turning it around and securing a place in the Championship.

 

What came across clearly during last Friday’s victory over Plymouth Albion was a determination that this was not going to be the case again. Admittedly it took fifty minutes for the team to realise this, but let’s be honest that’s a lot better than after three or four games!

 

After a slow and somewhat frustrating first half when Plymouth had been allowed to build a steady lead, a number of players, not least Neil Mason and Chevvy Pennycook, decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it around. The stepping up of the pace and intensity of play clearly suited Moseley as an impressive comeback was staged through some direct running and astute tactical play which put Albion under pressure. A faultless kicking performance from Ollie Thomas also capitalised on this approach.

 

London Scottish also got off to a winning start in the playoff campaign with a hard fought 16 – 20 away win at Esher. In a performance based on a strong defensive effort fly half Dan Mugford proved his worth with five penalties. As a result Moseley and Scottish share the top spot in Pool C with ten points each.

 

During the season proper the two teams met twice in the league with Scottish winning on both occasions.  The Moseley players will be looking to gain revenge over the only team in Pool C to have achieved the double over them during the season; a playoff double for Moseley would be rather good!

 

Sun 2nd October

London Scottish

37 – 21

Moseley

Mon 26th December

Moseley

16 - 29

London Scottish

 

That both games were relatively high scoring is not something we can assume will be the case on Sunday when playoff pressures will come into play. If, however, Moseley can secure good position and revert to an open style of play a few more tries could be scored.

 

The London Scottish hierarchy will be viewing the potential of relegation as a serious threat to the club’s stated plans of challenging for a place in the Premiership within three years. Having gone professional two years ago on the back of some significant sponsorship, the club will be focussed on consolidating its position rather than having to step backwards and  build again from National Division 1 next season. It is reported that the Championship is a much more competitive environment than the Scottish first thought.

 

The Scottish squad was bolstered with further signings in the run up to the play offs. Winger Gerard Mullen made the short journey from London Welsh, Hooker Ollie Hayes joined under duel registration with Worcester and back row Zane Winslade flew in from New Zealand.

 

For Moseley the key on Sunday will be containing the impressive London Scottish pack in the set piece. Since the two teams met in January the Moseley pack has improved considerably, a fact demonstrated last week as each forward stood toe to toe with a hard, aggressive Plymouth pack.

 

If Moseley can gain parity up front and put pressure on Scottish’s livewire Simon Amor at scrum half then we may see mistakes creep into the game which Ollie Thomas should be quick to punish.

 

You can be sure that this week Moseley’s backs will be keen to have a greater say in the outcome of the match and will be looking to play the more expansive game that has delivered 49 tries this season. In the last Plymouth game, Moseley failed to exploit this potential. On Sunday Moseley will need to move play away from taking the opposition up front with a variety from pre-set moves.

 

If the Moseley players start the game at the same level of intensity and with the same tactical awareness that they ended last Friday’s match then a vital win on the road is within their grasp