Moseley (A) 5.1.1306/01/2013
Moseley 23 Jersey 19
by Tom Innes
Jersey suffered a sixth successive away defeat in the Championship, although an impressive rearguard action in the final quarter scared hosts - and relegation rivals - Moseley and limited the damage.
The Midlanders went 23-9 up having scored their third try after 62 minutes, and look set for a bonus-point win that would have put them four ahead of Jersey at the bottom of the table. But tries by Nicky Griffiths and Nathan Hannay saw Jersey storm back into contention, and with no more points for the home side, Moseley had to settle for a 4:1 points split and a two-point advantage (17-15) in the league table, which is propped up by Doncaster (13).
Both halves of the game defied the conventional wisdom among locals that the slope at Billesley Common was worth 10-12 points to the team playing down it, especially with a stiff diagonal breeze also blowing down the ground. In fact the hosts claimed the half-time honours 13-6 after playing up the hill, while Jersey outscored their opponents 13-10 thereafter.
Jersey's scrum again dominated, although not to the extent that the home side's possession from scrums was disrupted. But on their own ball, the Jersey pack held the upper hand against a front row containing former Player-Coach Ben Evans.
The first scrum brought a chance for Mike Le Bourgeois to kick at goal from a penalty, which he took, only for Glyn Hughes to reduce the arrears four minutes later. There was a gasp among home fans when Le Bourgeois opted to kick for goal from inside his own half soon afterwards, and another - of relief - as the ball dipped just below the bar. 'Booj' showed he had the distance with a better-struck effort soon afterwards, but this time the ball went wide, however after half an hour he was successful and the lead was restored (3-6).
The closest Jersey came to a try in the first half was when Nicky Griffiths and Glenn Bryce combined for a charge close to the line. Quick ball was recycled and fed to Jon Brennan on the charge. The prop they call 'Bear' would have been hard to stop from 5-6 metres out, but sadly he couldn't grasp the ball in his eager paws and the chance went begging.
Charlie Hayter was the thorn in Jersey's side in Moseley's 12-31 win in the Channel Islands in September, and he scored again here courtesy of a neat Hughes' shimmy through Jersey's midfield and a scoring pass. Hayter still had plenty to do from around 25 metres out, and was brought down short of the line by a cover tackle by the pacy Griffiths, but he was able to use his momentum to wriggle over the line.
Dave Markham was a conspicuous presence for Jersey throughout the game, showing some good distribution skills from scrum-half on occasions when Griffiths was trapped in rucks and mauls, as well as a solid contribution up front, but the second row blotted his copybook when he brought down a Moseley maul five minutes before the break. A yellow card ensued, and Moseley opted for another go with their potent catch-and-drive weapon, Stefan Thorp bursting clear from the maul and charging over.
Jersey survived at 13-6 until Markham's return five minutes into the second period, and soon reduced the arrears when Le Bourgeois stroked over another scrum-related penalty. Soon afterwards Evans' head was forced up and out of another scrum, but the decision went in Moseley's favour, and the hosts moved down the field, won a lineout close to Jersey's line, and Ben Pienaar rumbled over from the maul, Hughes adding a tricky conversion.
Tom Cooper came on for Jersey for only his third league appearance having been out-of-action for four months with a series of injuries, and soon made an impact. Dai Bishop and Le Bourgeois gave him an opportunity on the right wing and Cooper burst forward. Anthony Carter made the tackle but Cooper was able to reach behind the defender and pop the ball to the supporting Griffiths.
Just three minutes later a charge-down, one of several suffered by home kickers, enabled a Jersey player (looked like Le Bourgeois #) to collect the ball. From a distance it seemed he could have scored himself, but in the event the ball was popped to Hannay to complete the job. Unfortunately Le Bourgeois missed both conversions in the capricious wind, the first on the right from the 15-metre line, and the second from close to the left touchline. Booj finished the game at full-back after another player - Ross Broadfoot - returned from long-term injury to take the place of Bryce.
Moseley had been guilty of failing to look after the ball since scoring their third try, but the narrowing of the gap focused their minds on the importance of victory, which would potentially be their first in the league in six attempts this season. Now they were able to regain some control, dominating possession and winning two late penalties. Hughes kicked the first just wide of the posts and then fired the second gleefully sideways into the stand to end the contest.
The two sides will now return to the British & Irish Cup, with the final two rounds of league matches scheduled for the next fortnight. Jersey, out of contention in pool 5, host Leeds Carnegie on Saturday (4pm KO) while Mose - who are top of their group - could qualify for the quarter finals with a home win over London Scottish on Friday. The Scots' priority looks to be league survival, and they made an important step in this direction on Saturday with a hard-fought 26-23 win over Bedford.
correction: # in the fading light it looked like Le Bourgeois, but in fact it was Hannay, with Markham picking up the loose ball and feeding his skipper for the score.
The Championship resumes on the weekend of January 25-27 with the following fixtures between the sides in the bottom half of the table:
Friday: Doncaster (13pts) v London Scottish (22)
Saturday: Jersey (15) v Rotherham (27); Plymouth (24) v Moseley (17)
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1 Sean McCarthy (rep Richard Barrington)
2 Dave Felton (rep Charlie Clare)
3 Jon Brennan
4 Nathan Hannay (capt)
5 Dave Markham
6 Graham Bell
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths
10 Mike Le Bourgeois
11 Ed Dawson
12 Dai Bishop
13 Max Stelling (rep Tom Cooper)
14 James Copsey
15 Glenn Bryce (rep Ross Broadfoot)
Replacements (not used)
18 James Gethings
19 Rob Anderson
20 Brendan O'Brien
Tries: Hayter 28, Thorp 35, Pienaar 62
Conversion: Hughes 62
Penalties: Hughes 7,58
Tries: Griffiths 67, Hannay 70
Penalties: Le Bourgeois 3, 25, 50
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)
Attendance: 1,001 (Moseley's second-largest of 2012/13)
Penalties conceded: Moseley 8 Jersey 12