1st XV Match Preview V Bishops Stortford (A) Sat 15/09/2018 

by Glyn Barlow

Following the frustrations of the single point loss to league new boys Cinderford last Saturday the team have an opportunity to make amends this weekend when they make the trip to Bishop’s Stortford.

The Hertfordshire based club currently sit in fifteenth place following losses to Darlington Mowden Park (23-26) and Rosslyn Park (25-17). That both these teams currently sit in the top three of the league should indicate there can be no complacency taken in Stortford’s current lowly league standing.

In preparation for the new season Bishop’s Stortford undertook a pre-season programme against Coventry Development XV losing 42-19, National 2 South team Canterbury winning 28-12 and Birmingham Moseley’s old friends from the Championship Bedford Blues losing 48-10.

To bolster their squad for the 2018/19 campaign the club have drafted in prop Louis Castigione, scrum half/full back Ben Creasey and Reece Lane from near neighbours Hertford along with centre Reuben Bird-Tulloch on dual registration from Saracens. On the debit side the loss of Samoan international back row Dan Leo will prove to be big boots to fill.

Last season the fixtures between the two teams favoured the away side with Stortford winning on their first visit to Billesley Common 25-27 and Birmingham Moseley claiming the victory in February 10-15, in a game contested predominantly between two strong packs.

Looking back on the first two games of Birmingham Moseley’s campaign you have to say it is a case of two very frustrating fixtures. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde’s Lady Bracknell: To lose one game when well ahead may be regarded as misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.

Remarkably last Saturday the team managed to take a ten point lead at half time and convert it into a one point loss following the same script as the previous week’s 20 point second half turnaround.

To secure a win this week there needs to be considerably more tactical awareness of how to close down the opposition when ahead. Arguably one of the best ways to maintain a strong lead is to keep building on it and only 13 second half points over the two games will not have helped the cause.

While this is still a relatively young team we need to look toward some of the more senior squad members to step up and take control of how the game is played. One of the key attributes of a good player is being able to influence changes of tactics as the game evolves. Hopefully on Saturday the team will be able to demonstrate that they have the ability to control a match for the full eighty minutes, and secure the first win of the season