Moseley 5 Plymouth Albion 50
It is to their huge credit that during a difficult start to their National One campaign Moseley have been rarely out-muscled by more expensively-assembled opponents.
That cannot, however, be said for this 50-point thumping.
Quite simply, man for man, Plymouth were stronger than their hosts and it was never more apparent than during a painful — both for spectators and participants — second period in which Moseley shipped six tries.
To be fair, Plymouth have one of the best packs in the division and their dominance around the fringes meant a home victory was always highly unlikely.
But the way in which they walked through tackles in the fourth quarter elicited the observation ‘men against boys’ from more than one mouth.
Having watched his team bashed out of the way, Ian Smith could do little but admit the victors’ supremacy.
"We came across a top-five side who played to their potential," the head coach said. "They were much stronger physically and that started to tot up in the second half which is when we fell off too many tackles to make it hard for them.
"They are the most physical side we have played against and it took its toll on a part-time outfit. It wasn’t rocket science and was something we expected but if you cannot catch someone like that below par, it’s going to be very difficult."
He did, however, reject the suggestion that Moseley could try to close the temporal gap that exists between them and the top four sides by introducing an extra training session each week.
"I wouldn’t consider that at the moment," he said. "We have got a few injuries in the squad and it’s crucial to keep the people we have got as fit and confident as we can. If we think it is necessary to bring in another session we will but it’s not the right time."
Smith maintained, quite correctly, that his side’s set piece had held up to the severe scrutiny placed upon it. Their line-out was a largely reliable source of possession and even stole some significant balls to keep a finger in the damn at key times. Their scrum creaked and groaned a tad but not decisively so.
Yet in the back row in particular Moseley were given the rag doll treatment — never more so than when Mark Evans flopped off Tom Hayes’s muscular break from the base of a five-metre scrum five minutes after the restart.
That made the score 17-0 and it was virtually impossible to see Smith’s men coming back from that.
The blindside wasn’t the only culprit, though. In fact, the excellent Andy Binns apart, most of Evans’ team-mates will reflect that it was not one of their finer days at the office.
Ollie Thomas had a decent game at fly half, made all the more creditable by the fact he was ailing with a chest infection, and the loan signings from Worcester, Uche Oduoza and Jamie Lennard, put in respectable shifts on the wings. Inside them Nick Buckley needs more time and fitness to show his true worth.
It will be difficult for him to attain either, though, with matches at Rotherham and Bedford in the next fortnight and little prospect of anything tangible from either encounter.
With Sedgley Park beating Nottingham the bottom of the division looks increasingly cut-throat. A point separates Moseley from the relegation zone.
Smith said: "We knew the first half of the season before Christmas was going to be tough. It is a case of consistently improving and doing well against whoever we were playing against. We are learning against the top sides and that will stand us in good stead for the second half of the year."
With home matches against Waterloo, Otley and London Welsh in the bank things are far from at crisis point yet. But this defeat will do little to instil confidence. The positions they did create, most notably in the first period, were squandered through knocks on, turnovers or penalties. Their only score came from a fortuitous Daren O’Leary interception in the 51st minute when the result was decided.
Plymouth kept coming. French wing Nicolas Sestaret bagged his eighth and ninth tries of the season, Tom Arscott also grabbed a couple and Hayes, Richard Oxley and Withan Neethling completed the rout.
MOSELEY: Binns; Oduoza, O’Leary (Holder, 76), Buckley, Lennard; Thomas, Knight (Hunter, 58); Coles (Buxton, 70), Caves (Bick, 70), Buxton (Bayliss, 40), Arnold (Stott, 63), Skelding (Daniell, 76), Evans, McIntosh (Lightoweller, 70), Rodwell.
PLYMOUTH: Neethling (Saumi, 76); Arscott, Van Eyk, Fisilau (Cruickshanks, 71), Sestaret; Barnes, Lewsey (Newman, 80); Rice, Oxley (Owen, 71), Zimmerman (Mathias, 70), Stewart, Gulliver, Genoud (Stroud, 74), Thomas (Lowrie, 74), Hayes.
Referee: M Wilson (RFU)