The Big Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow
So that’s it then. Moseley saw off the spectre of relegation at Esher with an impressive win. End of season, we can all relax.
This week we welcome the visit of London Scottish in a match which is significant for both clubs, but in different ways. As it stands with Scottish on 15 points and Esher on 6, there is still a mathematical chance that Esher can escape the drop and send Scottish back to National One.
Admittedly it’s a slim chance which would require Scottish failing to pick up a single point in either this weekend’s game or in the final match against Esher. Also Esher would need two 5 point victories against both Plymouth and Scottish to be sure of breaking exiled Caledonian hearts. (Technically it could be possible with one 4 point and one 5 point victories if wins over the season are a factor to be taken into consideration but we'll leave that one to the anoraks to sort out! These playoffs are better than Sudoku at challenging the old brain cells).
You can be sure of one thing then, Scottish will be going all out not to leave Billesley Common empty handed.
For Moseley though, one word encapsulates this week’s game. Pride. Having lost three times to Scottish this season the team will not be able to contemplate making it four. The results so far have been:
Sun 2nd October London Scottish 37 – 21 Moseley
Mon 26th December Moseley 16 – 29 London Scottish
Sun 18th March London Scottish 23 – 20 Moseley
This is not very satisfactory reading. The Boxing Day performance was particularly disappointing and ranks possibly as one of the worst Moseley performances of the season. By the time of the playoff game at Richmond the Moseley players had found the measure of the large Scottish pack and showed great character to play themselves back into the game to pick up a bonus point.
In Scottish’s last two playoff games there have been defeats to Plymouth, the away fixture being a particularly heavy 35 – 7 loss. The subsequent narrow home defeat by 6 – 11 suggests that Scottish have started to sort things out again and will again pose a strong challenge to Moseley.
If the Moseley players need any further incentive to perform well this week it will be that this is one of the last two opportunities to press home to coaches Maggs & West their claim for a place in the 2012/13 squad. Certainly the team has risen to the challenge in recent weeks and a number of players will have seen their names appearing on the coaches shopping list for next season.
Clearly evident in the last win over Esher was the pack’s ability to control a game as the home team eight was dominated in all areas. That provided the base for some astute tactical play from the backs which resulted in the win.
Most impressive were the phases of play following Anthony Carter’s yellow card (he seems to like collecting them against Esher as much as David Lyons likes scoring tries against the same opponents!). From one man down and in a dangerous position near the Moseley 22, the pack worked relentlessly forward until Dan Sanderson crossed the line to take the game, and put the prospect of relegation, beyond doubt. This was a defining moment which encapsulated how far this team has developed during the season.
The squad will deservedly have been able to reflect on a job well done, but the aim now must be to underline that Moseley should never have been considered for relegation by winning the last two games and finishing top of Pool C.
Let’s hope the players sign off the season at Billesley in style and put on an appropriate display for the 100+ old players who will be watching following their annual reunion.
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