By Sian Davies Todd
September 29 2012
Bristol 'bounced back' from their poor showing against Leeds with performance that had hit the wall on the other side and bounced right back the other way to give an even poorer showing. An absence of basic skills, match management and even teamwork gave an impression of a side that instead of bouncing back is digging a hole. Despite this Bristol could and should have managed to scrape a narrow win, but the inexplicable decision at the end not to go for the posts transformed a poor display into a shocking loss.
The match opened with a series of ill-tempered encounters and poor discipline from both sides. A penalty allowed Tristan Roberts to kick down into Idiot’s Corner to set up good field position and Moseley gave away a penalty for not rolling away. Both sides were penalised for this throughout the game, just as Bristol were last weekend, and the week before. It’s clearly one of the offences at the breakdown that referees have been told to concentrate on, and we just aren’t getting it. Any hoo, Roberts kicked the points for a 3 – 0 lead.
Bristol strung together some good moves with some offloading out of the tackle, but it always seemed just on the edge of their skill comfort-zone. Much of the play from both sides was scrappy and inconclusive, but with the hosts looking to have got the better of things overall. Then disaster struck when Moseley outside half Hughes split a lumbering defensive line and sprinted over the line for a surprisingly unconverted try. Moseley then appeared to have put themselves under pressure when Hayter was yellow carded for a high tackle on David McIlwaine (one of perhaps three Bristol players to emerge with any credit from what – SPOILER ALERT – was to prove a shocking debacle). In fact it wasn’t a high tackle at all, upper chest only. Harsh. Bristol failed to claim the points from the resulting kick.
Then it looked for an instant as if the referee had realised his error and brandished a yellow card to Mariano Sambucetti. He had, but it was also shown to Mason(?). What for, I have no idea. So we were down to 14 v 13. Bristol attempted to press home their numerical advantage but were held out short of the Moseley line. Bristol scrummaged well and were awarded a penalty. Inexplicably rather than scrum again right in front of the posts or go for a catch and drive (14 v 13 remember) the decision was a kick for the posts. Yes it went over, putting Bristol 6 – 5 ahead, but surely the bolder option would have been better? Particularly in light of a later decision right at the end it does make you question Bristol’s tactical thinking. Bristol were unable to build on this slender advantage, instead more stupid penalties gave Moseley three more chances at goal but Hughes, who had a bit of off night with the boot (fortunately for Bristol) contrived to miss them all. Admittedly the final one was from inside his own half!
A deplorable half of rugby, from both sides if truth be told. Poor discipline. Inability to use hard won possession and poor execution of basic skills. Would the second half be any better?
At first it looked as if the answer would be ‘yes’ as the Moseley defence parted before Ben Mosses, and McIlwaine was released to plunge over out wide for an unconverted try (as an aside, wasn’t McIlwaine a rather good goal kicker for Doncaster? Why didn’t we use him?). Bristol did their best to let Moseley back into the match with some poor defending and, another theme of the season, a charged down clearance which saw Moseley over the line but fortunately the ball ran dead. Bristol tried to tighten things up after this let off and managed to go through a few rather awkward phases of play before Moseley gave away a penalty that, following a long advantage, Roberts was able to send between the posts (and over the bar, importantly) for 14 – 5.
Bristol kicked for touch from a penalty but a poor lineout, not the first and by no means the last, allowed the visitors off the hook. The crowd were then stirred by a fine run from McIlwaine that took play right up towards the Moseley line. A try looked a near certainty, but Bristol huffed and puffed exhaustingly for a long while before Mitch Eadie (another of the better performances) finally managed to get over the line for a converted try and 21 – 5.
Surely that was it for the Moseley challenge? Oh no. The Bristol defence continued to look shaky and some of the passing when going forward was truly shocking. Indeed, from the panicky way Bristol were playing you might have thought they were 16 point behind. In any event it was Moseley next to score when Hughes had his brace following a simple well executed move that left the Bristol defence looking bemused. In under the posts and even he couldn’t miss the conversion to rush to 21 – 12.
Bristol made an effort to pin Moseley back but another foul up in the lineout allowed Moseley to race downfield through a disorganised defence culminating in Hayter crossing for a converted try and 21 – 19. A five metre lineout to Bristol and a try to Moseley, go figure. Surely Bristol couldn’t throw it away at this late stage? It certainly didn’t look like it when another yellow card went Moseley’s way to give Bristol a one man advantage for the last few minutes of the game. The decision for the penalty was, as in the first half to go for the posts. Obviously. Just a two point advantage, a penalty would stretch the lead to five so Moseley would need a converted try.
No. Go for the lineout that had worked so well up to now. This isn’t hindsight by the way, it was said on the terrace around me at the time. Sure enough the lineout malfunctioned spectacularly and Moseley are back up to the Bristol line in seconds and almost over for the try. Somehow Bristol kept them out, but at the cost of a penalty right in front of the posts. Over it went and Moseley were 21 – 22 winners.
Quote:I second that!EverOptimistic
Brilliant report - please send to LM and the coaching staff!