Preview to Moseley (A)

03/01/2013

On the 11th Day of Christmas*, ma' true lahv sent to me...
11 boards-a-banging
10 crapauds clapping
(Number) 9 bus on match-days
A gallon of Liberation
Seven Thompson tackles
Six runs by Dawson
Five Ben Har-veys

/*Deep breath*/

Four scrum-halfs?
Three Booj kicks
Two Nathan beards
And a league win away at Mose-ley

There may be uncertainty over whether Christmas decorations have to come down on Saturday or Sunday this weekend (*see 'And Finally' below) but there's little doubt that one of two unwanted records will be packed away around the same time.

At Billesley Common this Saturday, either Jersey will taste league success on the road for the first time this season, or Moseley will finally claim their first home Championship win. Unless it's a draw of course...

Mose

Moseley's record as the host who gives away the most, and Jersey's tendency to leave for home empty-handed, aren't the only factors making this a compelling encounter. There's the league table of course, with both sides jostling for position in the Championship basement after 12 of the 22 rounds, along with Doncaster and London Scottish. And if I go any longer without mentioning Ben Evans, I think I might explode...

This Saturday's game will mark exactly one month since it was confirmed that Jersey's Player-Coach would be leaving the club after 18 months at St Peter. Within a fortnight he'd been snapped up by Moseley, which was hardly a surprise given the Birmingham club's troubles in the scrum this season, exacerbated by multiple front-row injuries. An international prop with 27 caps and in some of the best shape of his life? Available immediately? Get him over here!

Ben And Steve

It will be a strange experience on both sides for the Jersey players to lock horns with the larger-than-life character who shared the title-winning highs of last season and who cajoled them through the opening three months of a tough Championship baptism. But these are professionals, and Jersey's players will want to prove that they are every bit as professional as the gnarled veteran.

Evans played nearly 80 minutes in his Moseley debut at Nottingham a fortnight ago, helping his side compete defiantly against one of the division's more potent attacks before losing 18-9. Expect some steely determination from the Welshman while battle is joined, but also plenty of smiles and humour once the final whistle blows.

The irrepressible Evans' humour has been in evidence already in 2013, with a New Year's Day Facebook posting of a picture taken that morning on top of a Welsh mountain. He is wearing just a wristwatch and walking boots, with his back to camera and arms raised, a bit like the famous statue in Rio. They're big on redeemers in Wales, and Moseley supporters will hope Billesley Common is just close enough to the border to feel some of the benefits.

Christ

Jersey's players redeemed themselves just in time for Christmas with a heroic win against Leeds, but their exploits on their muddy home pitch won't count for anything this Saturday - a New Year requires a new determination to demonstrate an ability to perform away from home as well as in their own back-yard.

News from the Jersey camp
Jersey are one of five Championship clubs to have enjoyed a full fortnight's break from league action over the festive season. Several English sides have had the festivities curtailed by games on either Boxing or New Year's Day, while across the border in Cornwall - where religion plays second-fiddle to rugby - the Pirates were in action on both days (and picked up a tidy nine points).

The break won't confer any significant advantage over this weekend's oppo, as Moseley have also had a 13-day hiatus, but it does mean the Jersey injury-list is - touch wood - shorter than at any point in 2012. Back-row men Fred Silcock (knee) Talite Vaioleti (shoulder) and James Voss (a horrible infection in his arm that saw him rushed to intensive care three weeks ago) remain sidelined, but otherwise a full squad resumed training on New Year's Eve, with everyone ready for action either this weekend or in the final two rounds of the B&I.

Winger James Copsey is the only change to Jersey's starting XV, replacing Ashley Maggs.

Jersey have been boosted by the return of young loan players Max Stelling, the Worcester three-quarter, and hooker Charlie Clare from Leicester. Harvey hopes to have both players available for the rest of the season, subject to any injury concerns at their 'parent' clubs.

Stelling, a try-scorer in the 20-17 win over Leeds, starts at outside-centre against the club where he played mini and colts rugby. Clare is on the bench alongside two players returning from long-term injuries: backs Tom Cooper and Ross Broadfoot haven't featured since September, but are now fit to commence their comeback in a match environment.

Jersey have yet to register an away win in their first season in the RFU Championship, losing five matches and gaining just two bonus points. By the same token, Moseley have under-achieved at home, registering a draw and four defeats in the league thus far. 

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Dave Felton
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
14 James Copsey
15 Glenn Bryce

Replacements
16 Richard Barrington
17 Charlie Clare
18 James Gethings
19 Rob Anderson
20 Brendan O'Brien
21 Ross Broadfoot
22 Tom Cooper

Any Previous?
The two sides met at St Peter on the middle Saturday of September, both having lost their opening two Championship games. After Matt Evans of Cornish Pirates scored a hat-trick at St Peter on the opening day of the season, Charlie Hayter emulated him. His first try came after just six minutes, and the second shortly before half-time helped the visitors to a 12-24 lead, Jersey's points coming from tries by Donovan Sanders and Glenn Bryce (pictured below) and a Ross Broadfoot conversion.

Bryce Try

The second half was a scoreless affair until forwards Ethan Waller and Buster Lawrence set up Hayter for his final try in the last minute. Ollie Thomas's conversion took his day's tally to 16 points and completed a 12-31 win. More details can be found here.

Moseley in 2012/13
The former Irish international Kevin Maggs - a Bristolian (pictured below) whose grandpa came from Limerick - arrived at Billesley Common in summer 2010 in a Player-Coaching role. The playing side of the role went unfulfilled, but his coaching abilities were quickly evident and 12 months later he was promoted to Head Coach, overseeing a season in which Moseley finished 10th in the league before comfortably avoiding relegation through finishing top of the 'trapdoor league' ahead of Plymouth, London Scots and Esher.

Maggs

The combined experience of nearly 900 Moseley matches left Billesley Common last summer as Kevin Maggs oversaw the most profound change in Red and Black personnel in a decade.

Record appearance holder Richard Stott, former captain Andy Reay and one-time jewel in the crown Chevvy Pennycook were among more than a dozen front-liners who moved on.

The pack was particularly well-shuffled with Stott and Pennycook just two of five forwards to have made more than 50 appearances before calling time on their Mose careers. That is to say nothing of last term's leading scorer Michael Ellery, the flying loose-forward who hurtled his way to nine tries in 38 outings over two contrasting seasons.

However, Maggs was adamant he has upgraded his squad in most positions and while many of the replacements are young and hungry, men like Mike Powell and Simon Hunt have been most places and seen and done most things.

Former London Welsh, Ospreys and Bridgend lock Powell, 33, was signed as a particularly important part of 'new' Moseley, bringing many years' worth of exposure to Heineken Cup, Magners League and Championship rugby.

Powell's role of shoring up the front five and mentoring the club's other, younger second rows, Liam Mather, Buster Lawrence and Addison Lockley, was an important factor, while he was also made captain. However injuries have ruined these best-laid plans, with Powell making just two appearances to date.

Other players to watch out for in Moseley's colours include two who faced Jersey last season: loose-head Ethan Waller played in both the games against Coventry and Anders Mogenson was at Cambridge and scored a try against Jersey in November. Both players are dual-registered with Northampton, along with scrum-half Alex Day, and all three appeared in Saints' LV Cup squad in November.

Back row man Ben Pienaar moved from Leicester Tigers this summer after making three starts and two substitute appearances last season. He has been a fixture in Moseley's back row for most of this season alongside Ben Pons and veteran Neil Mason. The forwards are coached by former Scotland (and Dings) prop David Hilton, who has been an occasional replacement when the need has arisen, in spite of being in his 43rd year.

In the backs, watch out for the dangerous line breaks of Hayter - although he has added just one league try to the three at St Peter - and centre partner Brad Hunt, the finishing of Simon Hunt (a former England Sevens player) and Mogenson on the flanks, and the kicking of Ollie Thomas.

Moseley tasted success at St Peter in their third game of 2012/13, which began with a 50-6 loss at Bedford in a game described as 'a car-crash' in the Birmingham media, followed by a narrow defeat at home to Nottingham. The opening section of the season continued with a 22-24 home defeat by Plymouth, a heavy loss to the high-flying Falcons and a heroic 21-22 win, after trailing for most of the game, against a stunned Bristol.

The Championship campaign continued with a trio of defeats to the Yorkshire contingent, a narrow 23-18 reverse at London Scottish and a 9-9 draw with the Pirates on a wet night at the Common. The most recent outing was the defeat at Meadow Lane, although there was no disgrace here given the damage inflicted by Nottingham on the likes of Bristol (63-7) and Jersey (48-16) this season.

The British & Irish Cup has seen better fortunes for the Red-and-Blacks, with three wins from four putting them in pole position to qualify from Pool 6, with 15 points to rivals Gala's 10.

The Moseley squad will be added to this preview once it is confirmed on Friday morning. In fact you'll need to link to it here (but yes, HE is playing at number 3!!

History of Moseley Rugby Club
Havelock FC were founded in 1873/74 and renamed Moseley FC the following season when the club first wore the red-and-black kit, a colour scheme that persists to this day. In the 1880s Moseley took up residence at the Reddings, defeated the touring New Zealand Maoris and had their first England cap JH Rogers. Moseley Wanderers represented Great Britain in rugby in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, losing to gold medallists France in their only game.

Moseley were one of the pre-eminent clubs in England, with a healthy crop of internationals ranging from JF Byrne (13 England caps + 4 for the Lions) in the 1890s to Peter Robbins (19) and England captain Colin McFadyean (11 + 4) in the '50s and '60s.

In the 1970s a raft of players from the club gained England caps including Sam Doble (3) Jan Webster (11) Martin Cooper (11) Barrie Corless (10), Nigel Horton (20) and Keith Fielding (10), and nine Moseley players were in the Midland Counties (West) team that defeated the All Blacks at the Reddings in December 1972.

The most recent England caps from Moseley were Nick Jeavons (14) and Mark Linnett (1) in the 1980s and Mike Teague (27 + 3) during a brief spell away from Gloucester. Many other countries have called on the club's squad; a small selection of these honours includes Scotland (Ian Smith won 25 caps), Namibia (Ryan de la Harpe won 6 caps in 2011) Canada (Al Charron - 76 caps) and even India (the lock Mani Samra - 4 caps).

In 1982 Moseley reached the final of the [national] John Player Cup, sharing the trophy with Gloucester after a 12-all draw, including extra-time. When leagues were first introduced to the English game, Moseley were in Courage League One for four seasons before being relegated from the top flight in 1991. In 21 subsequent seasons they have been largely found at level two, with the exception of three seasons at level three in the mid-noughties.

Relegation in 2003 followed a difficult spell which included administration in 1998 and the sale of the Reddings in 2000. This was followed by five seasons at the University of Birmingham's Bournbrook facility until they moved to their present site at Billesley Common (below) in 2005 after a proposal to relocate to Oxford's Kassam Stadium had been rejected in 2002.

Mose _v _Cov _Billesley _Common

In six seasons back at level two, Moseley's best finish has been 8th in 2008/09, the season in which the club won the EDF Trophy with a 23-18 victory over Leeds. This was followed by three successful attempts to avoid the drop via the now-defunct relegation play-offs.


Mose Triv 
* Two players have started all 12 league games for Moseley so far this season - Lockley and Simon Hunt.

* Ollie Thomas has landed 24 penalties this season with an 85% success rate, plus nine conversions (69%). Conversely Jersey's Mike Le Bourgeois has a better record with conversions (13 at 92%) than penalties (18 at 64%). Back-up kickers Glyn Hughes and Ross Broadfoot have scored 31 and 13 league points respectively, with the latter not having featured for Jersey since September but in contention to return to the squad.

* Jersey and Moseley are the lowest try scorers in the Championship this season, with 19 and 16 respectively. Both sides will be hoping for an above-average return this weekend after Round 12 of the Championship (Dec 22-26) saw just 13 tries in six games, four of them at St Peter. The previous lowest tally was 23 in Round 7.

* The well-travelled Ben Harvey played a season at Moseley in 2000-01, making 19 appearances and scoring 181 points, as well as earning the nickname 'suave'. His colleagues included hooker Adam Caves, who has been at Moseley since 1999 with the exception of one season at Gloucester in 2002/03. The nearest rival in terms of longevity for Caves [whose uncle is Mose Team Manager John] is flanker Neil Mason, now in his eighth season and with around 180 Moseley appearances under his belt.

* Young whipper-snapper Harvey made his Bristol debut in September 1995, joining Kevin Maggs in the side after replacing Kyran Bracken against a Wasps side (33-5 winners that day) that included Rob Andrew, Lawrence 'Dayglo', Andy Gomersall and Dean Ryan. Other names in the Bristol squad that season included Simon Shaw, Garath Archer, Paul Hull, Jason Keyter, Arwel Thomas and Martin Corry.

* Kevin Maggs, David Hilton and Ben Evans have a total of 139 international caps between them.

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Moseley v Jersey through the following channels:

* Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 2pm, plus preview on Friday between 5.30 and 6pm
* Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle i.e. just after 5pm
* Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum


The Championship this 'weekend'
New Year's Day - Pirates 32 Bristol 17 - Bristol suffer first defeat in seven games, and to make matters worse they concede a late BP try, see Pirates go above them in the table to fourth place, and could be down to 6th should Leeds defeat Plymouth; Doncaster 10 Newcastle 28 - Falcons recover their poise after the near embarrassment against London Scottish before Xmas, although the going was far from easy against a determined Knights side who looked like they might be the fifth side to deny Falcons a BP until the dying minutes. Newcastle stay top, now 17 points clear, Doncaster 12th just behind Jersey and Moseley.
Saturday - London Scottish v Bedford; Rotherham v Nottingham
Sunday - Leeds v Plymouth

And Finally
* I wasn't sure whether January 5th was the 12th Day of Christmas, or the 11th. Having researched this, I can confirm that this is a complex matter and there is little agreement on the subject. People can't even agree whether 12th Night comes before or after the 12th Day (whenever the 12th Day is). For those wanting to investigate more, there's always Google. But I wouldn't if I was you... 11 'verses' seemed ample - some might say more than enough - for the purposes of the ditty used to open this article.

The referee for the Moseley game will be Luke Pearce, whose CV includes the 2009 Siam Cup encounter between Jersey and Guernsey, then aged 21. Pearce has since gone on to referee in the Aviva Premiership and on the IRB Sevens circuit.

Two other games involving Jersey teams this weekend. Banks Ladies play Harlequins Ladies at Grainville at 1pm on Saturday, having served up a feast of running rugby on their last outing, a 45-10 trouncing of Tonbridge Juddians in November. On Sunday Jersey Colts are away to Havant.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Tom Innes

 

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