Moseley 10 Jersey 3

24/12/2013

Moseley 10 Jersey 3
Greene King IPA Championship
Saturday December 21st 2013
by Tom Innes /*report reproduced by kind permission Jersey Evening Post*/

The shortest day of the year was a day lacking in cheer for Jersey players and supporters, who will hope that, as the nights get shorter, they will progress onwards and upwards in the new year.

The Islanders began in determined fashion: they may have been playing up an appreciable slope at Billesley Common and into the face of a stiff breeze, but they dominated possession in the early stages.

The penalty count soon swung Jersey's way, but place-kicking into the wind would have been a lottery and Niall O'Connor mainly opted for tactical nudges to the corners, only for Moseley's defence to hold firm as their opponents tried to breach the home line.

Jersey's backs attacked with purpose but had little to show for it. Jack Burroughs was a lively presence at full-back and twice chased his own up-and-under kicks and claimed them with superb leaping catches. However on the first occasion he was let down by his team-mates' failure to retreat. Moseley's Will Hooley, the fly-half who is dual-registered with Northampton Saints, took a shot for goal from 45 metres and his kick was accurate enough to open the scoring.

Jersey continued to press, with some solid carrying from the forwards, with Latu Maka'afi an especially conspicuous presence, but there were a number of handling errors that led to turnovers. The most expensive of these enabled Moseley to feed the ball via some audacious passing to Matt Williams, the left wing who had switched to the opposite flank and raced half the length of the field to score and make it 10-0.

O'Connor finally signalled to the posts when Jersey won another penalty - Moseley were warned for persistent offending at this stage - shortly before half-time and slotted a kick from close range.

The first score of the second period looked crucial, but neither side was able to produce it. Both sides made changes in the front row, with former Jersey player Ben Evans among those entering the fray, but otherwise there was a notable lack of replacements - nine unused bench players must surely be close to a record?

Jersey's scrum was the stronger of the two packs, especially with the slope in their favour, but this advantage was neutered on some occasions by the referee awarding Moseley a free kick at the engagement stage. Each side's kicker had a solitary shot at goal in the second period, but both attempts were wide.

With around an hour gone Jersey were awarded a scrum on Moseley's line, with the crowd falling quiet with nerves. Everyone in the ground, including referee Ross Campbell, seemed aware this was a pivotal moment. There were eight re-sets over as many minutes, including a penalty and a free kick to Jersey, but the Islanders' pack couldn't manage the major drive that could have led to a penalty try, and eventually Campbell ruled in Moseley's favour with a penalty that enabled the hosts to clear their lines.

Coming away empty-handed was a frustrating outcome for Jersey, and it was little surprise that tempers frayed during the latter stages, with Evans and Dave Young earning yellow cards after a fractious exchange between the two packs.

There was a chance that Moseley could have snatched Jersey's losing bonus point away with a late attack, one of their few forays into Jersey territory in the second period. Hooley darted through midfield and span the ball wide, but his colleagues were penalised for crossing when a try looked inevitable. Jersey were able to clear the danger, but not to press for an equalising try before the final whistle blew.

Interim Head Coach Steve Boden was a disappointed man, and for the second consecutive week it was his side's execution, rather than any lack of effort, that he blamed for the result.

'There's no point me going into the dressing room shouting and screaming,' he said. 'The boys have given everything, but they have made too many mistakes, the most important of which cost us seven points which ended up as the difference.

'When we make mistakes other teams are punishing us, but we don't do the same when it's the other way round.'

Boden was reluctant to comment on the officiating, particularly in relation to the lengthy sequence of scrums, but admitted the game wasn't the sort of contest that would put smiles on faces.

'We should be able to come here and win, we are well capable and I'm backing the boys to come good in the new year,' he said. 'They've got a break now, but we will be back working hard on Sunday [December 29th] and have a full week's build-up to the London Welsh game [on January 4th].

'They may be the league leaders, but we'll be going into the game to win it - we'll be scrapping for every single point and the boys are definitely up for the fight.'

Moseley Head Coach Kevin Maggs admitted the game wasn't a great spectacle, but that didn't mean he wasn't pleased to come away with four points.

'We've had a lot of rain here the last couple of days and the conditions were pretty bad, but at the end of the day we have picked up the win - it wasn't pretty but we knew before the start that it would be a tough contest against a good side.

'The scrums will be a big discussion point and everyone is still getting to grips with the new laws. Fair play to [referee] Ross Campbell, he does it by the letter of the law and wants the scrum to be stationary, pushing to be straight and binds to be legal.'

Maggs was supportive of Boden's efforts since taking charge of Jersey earlier this month.
'I've got a lot of respect for Steve and what he believes in and he'll be working very hard to turn things round for Jersey in the second half of the season.'

Jersey
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, Elvis Taione, David Young (YC 74), Dave Markham, Alex Rae (capt), Latu Maka'afi, Fred Silcock, Ben Maidment; Half-backs: Jimmy Williams, Niall O'Connor; Backs: Mark McCrea, David Bishop, Drew Locke, Grant Pointer, Jack Burroughs. Replacements: Nick Campbell for Silcock (33 minutes); David Felton for Taione (HT); Tom Fidler for McCarthy (75). Unused replacements: Nick Selway, James Voss, Joel Dudley, Mark Foster.

Moseley: Voisey, Buckley, Parkins, Woolford, Powell (capt), Lawrence, Robinson, Mason; Brown, Hooley; Williams, Gregory, Armstrong, Hunt, Carter. Replacements: B Evans (YC 74) for Parkins 52, Warren for Voisey 52. Unused replacements: W Evans, Carpenter, Brazier, Owen, Ryan.

Referee: Ross Campbell
Attendance: 948
Half-time: 10-3

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