1st XV Match Preview V Plymouth Albion (a) Sat 21/04/2012 

 

The Big Match Preview - by Glyn Barlow

 

And so we reach the final game of the season with a visit to Plymouth Albion. And what a roller coaster season it has been.

 

 It started off with such promise; a new coaching team, fourteen new players including the return of cup hero Jack Adams and an opening draw against Cornish Pirates, last season’s Championship runners up.

 

Some good wins in the B&I Cup, supplemented by some near misses such as the one point loss at Leeds, meant that things still looked good in the earlier part of the season. However fortunes started to take a downward turn as winter closed in and defensive issues led to some disappointing results which ended in another season trying to avoid the dreaded pool C.

 

Once Moseley did enter the playoffs, however, things took a turn for the better. A win over Plymouth and back to back victories against Esher resulting in Moseley securing safety in the Championship at the earliest point yet. Plymouth Albion also successfully avoided the drop to National Division One, which leaves an interesting fight in Richmond this weekend between London Scottish and Esher to see which of the London clubs will be taking their leave of the Championship.

 

Last weekend Moseley put to rest an annoying statistic by comprehensively beating London Scottish and ensuring there was not a 4 – nil whitewash in terms of games played between the two sides this season.

 

Despite a slow start the Moseley pack came to life in the second half and repeated the dominance displayed in recent weeks to totally outplay the Scottish forwards who became increasingly frustrated and bemused as the game wore on. In fact the recent resurgence of the Moseley pack into a force to be reckoned with, combined with an exciting back line bodes well for next season.

 

Meanwhile in London an extraordinary result played out with Plymouth falling to Esher 42 – 17, a scoreline which gave Esher a lifeline and left most Plymouth supporters wondering what on earth had happened. A likely combination of Plymouth relaxing having secured Championship status and the Esher players playing for their lives has probably given a result into which Moseley should not read any significance. You can be sure that Plymouth will be looking to prove that this was a “one off” in front of a partisan home crowd.

 

Plymouth, as a club, has more than just success on the field to celebrate having recently secured the finances needed to stave off the threat of liquidation. The summer months will be a welcome time for the club to prepare for next season.

 

This season the two sides have already met on four occasions:

 

21st September

B&I Cup

Moseley

29 – 25

Plymouth

28th October

Championship

Plymouth

21 – 20

Moseley

27th January

Championship

Moseley

9 – 3

Plymouth

9th March

Championship

Moseley

25 – 17

Plymouth

 

With the count to date standing at 3 -1 to Moseley and each game being won by a close margin this won’t be a game easy to call. You might think that as both sides now have relegation pressures removed that this will be something of a non-event, but the prospect of finishing on top of Pool C and its associated statement of strength will not be lost on either team.

 

However with Moseley on 24 league points and Plymouth on 19, Plymouth would need to win and score four tries while preventing the visitors from scoring four tries or losing within seven points, to gain the necessary five league points to achieve this. (Moseley’s currently has a greater number of wins and superior points difference – 35 compared with 7 ).

 

As ever with games against Plymouth the battle must first be won up front for any chance of victory. Based on previous games between the two sides, given enough ball, the Moseley backs should be able to cause some significant problems to the home side. Playing the game well away from the Moseley line must be the first priority as the big Plymouth ball carriers can score tries from close range. In addition during the playoffs the boot of James Love has been Plymouths most significant weapon, and Moseley must be careful not to give away penalties within kicking range.

 

One final 80 minutes of concentration and effort from all will be a fitting way to sign off the season. If Moseley can take all those performances that gave us the highs of our roller coaster ride and put them together on the Brickfields pitch then we could yet see the best this team has to offer.

 

Having made a success of the playoffs the Moseley players will be looking for one final opportunity to underline their abilities to  coaches Maggs and West who  are now  heavily involved in the formulating the squad for 2012/13. Some of them who take to the field on Saturday may be doing so for the last time in a Moseley shirt and we wish them well for their futures. And to all of the squad we should say a big thank you for your efforts. You have made the supporters proud of Moseley; this has certainly been a season of progress.