1st XV Match Preview V Esher RFC (h) Sat 24/03/2012 

The Big Match Preview - By Glyn Barlow

 

This Saturday is the start of eight days which could be Moseley’s most crucial period of the season. The visit of Esher, currently bottom of Pool C, and the return fixture a week later provide golden opportunities to secure Championship status next season. 

 

At present five points separate the two teams, a gap maintained when both teams picked up losing bonus points last week. Moseley won both encounters during the regular season, and if this repeated, safety from relegation would have been obtained with two weekends to spare.

 

The results of the regular season matches are;

 

Sat 24th September

Moseley

35 – 21

Esher

Sat 10th December

Esher

14 – 29

Moseley

 

The two teams will again be playing back to back games on the third and fourth weeks of the playoffs. Last season Moseley turned around a disastrous start, having lost the first two playoff games, to win both encounters. By comparison, this year Moseley’s start has been more positive with six points gained from the opening fixtures.

 

Esher will be acutely aware that the last four encounters between the two clubs have been won by Moseley. So above playing for Championship survival, there will be a very determined visiting team at Billesley on Saturday and the Moseley players will need all their skills and commitment to repel this challenge.

 

Last week Moseley failed to follow up on an opening weekend win over Plymouth when losing to London Scottish by three points. The coaches will not be happy with a first half performance which started poorly with defensive lapses and failures to capitalise on good field positions. However a number of positives can be taken from that game, not least the fight back from being 17-6 down to gain a bonus point.

 

And what of Saturday’s opposition? Esher entered the playoffs in a more positive frame of mind due to a number of key players returning from long term injuries, absences which contributed significantly to a poor showing in the early part of the regular season. Indeed the team had to wait until the last day of 2011 before securing a first league win. This was followed by impressive victories over London Scottish, Plymouth Albion and Leeds, which confirmed what we already knew; Esher will be nobody’s pushover when it came to the playoffs.

 

For Moseley the way forward is relatively simple, play to the game plan Kevin Maggs and Craig West have been developing all season. The forwards need to build a solid platform for a set of talented backs to threaten the Esher line. The team needs to be patient and retain the ball rather than trying to force plays that are not really on. Tactical kicking must be more precise using the touchline as free ball kicked centre field will be run back by a talented back line with potentially costly consequences.

 

An early positive start is essential and the defensive intensity needs to be 100% from the first whistle, players cannot afford to stand back in defence and wait for the attacker to come to them as was the case in London Scottish’s first try last week. The players have to be aware when tactics need to be varied such as moving the ball wide when forward charges are being halted or exploiting the space behind a rush defence.

 

Safety is within Moseley’s grasp. Now is the time for the players to show everyone what they are truly capable of.