Sale FC v Birmingham Moseley – Sat 24th February

The Big Match Preview – Sale FC v Birmingham Moseley

Chris Bertram sees a chance to push ahead

Another match, another close finish. This seems to be the story of Birmingham Moseley’s encounters with Darlington Mowden Park, though the final four-point margin makes it look closer than it was, as Mowden Park closed the gap only with a last-play try and conversion. But against a side that have often been a bogey team for us, to do a “double” over them during the season is gratifying. It would also be good if the team didn’t make it harder than necessary for themselves with disciplinary lapses – the half time team talk must have been interesting with a deficit on the scoreboard consisting largely of penalties – but overall the performance showed great cohesion and no little enterprise on a pitch that looked heavy underfoot with a fresh Billesley breeze to make life interesting.

So that makes it four wins in a row, and with the five points earned, a clear third place for the second week running. The aim must be to sustain this level of performance and keep winning. We can do nothing about the teams above us, Rams and Chinnor, until we meet them again in the final two games of the season. Will we be playing a part in deciding the title race between them? Or dare we dream that they slip up so that we are in contention ourselves? Probably best not to get ahead of ourselves here, we have work to do on our own behalf.

That work continues with a trip to Heywood Road to meet Sale FC. Sale were one of last season’s high flyers, finishing third, close behind top two Cambridge and Rams. This season has been a different story, as they started their programme by losing seven of their first eight games, the last one of that sequence being a defeat at Billesley Common. Some said that the lack of access to Sale Sharks’ junior players was a factor, but even with said resources they have not jumped up the table as might have been expected, and they currently sit in tenth place, six points behind Blackheath. However they did beat Rams and, more recently, Plymouth Albion, and have won three of their last four games. With their home record also being respectable, it would be foolish to assume that they are there for the taking. With six wins to Moseley’s three from the most recent encounters, they have bragging rights there as well.

One startling feature of Sale FC’s statistics of the season to date is that their top try scorer, winger Mark Dixon, has only five tries despite featuring in most of their matches. He heads a list, however, of many players with three or four tries. Altogether, twenty-three different players have touched down for Sale, but they only have four try bonus points so far. Top scorer is fly-half Tom Curtis with 57 points to his name from the boot, but some of those were scored for Sale Sharks in the Premiership Cup in the early part of the season, and centre James Robins has handled much of the kicking.

For Moseley, Ollie Allsopp and Dan Brough both increased their tally to five tries with brilliant individual scores against Mowden Park. Will Safe, who operates under the radar much of the time took full advantage of a gap to notch his third, and Tuoyo Egodo was on the end of a final pass from Brough to bag his second. Jack Jolly added nine points to his tally from the boot to move to 42, while Tighe Maxwell-Whiteley marked a return to action with a late penalty and now has 124.

Can Moseley build on recent progress and achieve a five game winning streak for the second time this season, or will Sale FC make home advantage count and derail the red and black train? If team spirit counts for anything, Moseley should have the edge, but as we’ve seen in this league, anything is possible. There is a supporters’ coach to carry the faithful up the M6, and with independent travellers there will be a substantial body of Moseley fans ready to cheer the team on with the cry:

“Come on Moseley”