An afternoon of the good, the bad and the ugly
THE fact that this game ended with an audible groan from both sets of supporters kind of summed up the poor quality fayre which had been served in the previous 80 minutes on a chilly Saturday afternoon in the Midlands.
Moseley played like a team still searching for their first home league win of the season, while the Pirates played like they had just met for the first time. They did some good stuff, they did some ordinary stuff, and they also did some things which left you wondering if it was all a rather odd and unpleasant dream.
Gone was the intensity so prevalent a week before against Leeds, while the sharp decisive back play witnessed at Dundee before that had vanished into the ether. Okay, so Moseley had a better set piece than the Scottish side, but on this display, that was about it.
The fact that it was so difficult for the Pirates to score against a Moseley defence incapable of legally defending a driving maul, and a pack clearly second best at scrum time, was bemusing, and some curious decisions from the referee didn't help.
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Sadly, dominant packs don't always get the rewards they deserve, as happened here, but you can't blame Mr Carley. The Pirates were well below par and unless they want a long uninspiring season of ups and downs, it is time for the whole squad individually and collectively to switch on and tune in for every minute of every game.
Critics of the club have got various bones of contention to chew on right now, but the daddy of them all is the kicking game employed by the team. I had a chat with assistant coach Harvey Biljon recently in which he explained the thinking behind this facet of play. It is not a tactic unique to the Pirates by any means and what he said made perfect sense.
In a nutshell you want your opponent playing in areas where they cannot hurt you and where you stand a chance of winning the ball back in good areas of the field. If only life was so simple, because we didn't see that here.
That doesn't mean that it was all Aaron Penberthy's fault, though. Some of his touch finding was superb while too often tactical kicks down-field seemed to confuse his own team-mates more than they did the opposition. He is one of those players who one moment will have you purring with delight and the next leaves you looking for something to bang your head against. But didn't we all sometimes do that when we were 20?
The responsibilities here, however, have to be collective and come down to the same old things again – decision-making, accuracy and execution. Get the first one right and the others invariably follow, but it had all become a bit flakey from the Pirates before their almost customary power-nap.
While they did that, Ollie Thomas thumped over three quick penalties for Moseley and it was all square, but then they too showed a singular lack of desire to win the game, for like a cricket team making a lazy afternoon declaration they retreated back into defence.
Ruthless Pirates would have killed them for that. They didn't, and we all went off to bang our heads in disbelief.
– Dick Straughan