Rugby Union: Wily Shelford plots Moseley's demise

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Northampton. . .37

Moseley. . . . .15

FOR Moseley the bad news came mid-morning when Steve Lloyd, their Wales B second row forward, cried off with flu. He would not have saved his team from defeat by Northampton in the quarter-finals of the Pilkington Cup but he might, however, have helped them in the line-out and the scrum. Without him Moseley were outplayed in both departments.

Moseley are struggling to avoid relegation from the Second Division. Yesterday the extent of the gulf between them and Northampton, who are fourth in the First Division, was there for all to see. Moseley had no one to match Martin Bayfield in the line-out - very few clubs do - and no one to cope with the wiles of Wayne Shelford at No 8. Shelford scored two tries and such was the level of approval from the near-capacity crowd that the New Zealander could probably be made a Freeman of the town.

Moseley faced a biting wind at the start and within minutes Bob Massey, a centre, had kicked a penalty. That was all Northampton needed. Their tail had been tweaked. It was time they woke up and sure enough they did. In the next 35 minutes they won the game, running in five tries - two by forwards and three by threequarters - of which John Steele converted two.

There were moments when Moseley's scrum was under pressure and their backs had so little ball it looked like boys against men. Occasionally, it was difficult to follow Northampton's players. So much is going right at Franklin's Gardens it seems odd that they cannot get the players' numbers right and Tim Rodber wore no number at all. And while they are making changes, perhaps they could erect a new and more prominent scoreboard.

Another odd thing was that when Northampton led 32-3 and more than 30 minutes of the second half remained, Moseley found some semblance of spirited form. They pulled off a well-worked try for Dave Spiller, comfortably slicing open Northampton's defence and scoring in the corner. Then they doggedly refused to give in and claimed the last try of this one-sided game. It came from a fine inter-passing movement that featured Peter Shillingford, Mike Teague and the replacement scrum-half Bruce Fenley before Chris Raymond crashed over the line.

Bayfield and Rodber emerged with credit and unscathed one week before England's game against Scotland, as did Teague who worked tirelessly in a hopelessly lost cause. The Saints had too much firepower, though, and will take some stopping in the semi-finals if they are drawn at home.

Northampton: J Steele; J Griffiths, N Beal, F Packman, H Thorneycroft; S Tubb, M Dawson; G Baldwin, J Olver (capt), G Pearce, J Etheridge, M Bayfield, P Walton, W Shelford, T Rodber.

Moseley: S Purdy (W Hart, 60 min); D Spiller, I Bancroft, B Massey, G Bartlett; M Hardcastle, N Parry (B Fenley, 29 min); M Linnett, D Ball, P Mitchell, M Proctor, C Raymond, M Teague, P Shillingford (capt), B Barr.

Referee: B Campsall (RFU).

Scores: Massey (pen, 12 min, 0-3); Beal (try, 14 min, 5-3); Rodber/Steele (try/conv, 27 min, 12-3); Thorneycroft/Steele (try/conv, 35 min, 19-3); Steele (pen, 39 min, 22-3); Shelford (try, 43 min,

27-3); Packman (try, 46 min, 32-3); Spiller (try, 49 min, 32-8); Shelford (try, 56 min, 37-8); Raymond/Massie (try/conv, 64 min, 37-15).