Exeter Chiefs 35 Moseley 14
Having faced the league leaders, Northampton, at home last week, and performed creditably well, it was somewhat disappointing for Moseley supporters to watch their side come rather badly unstuck against the side in second place.
The two sides at the top of National One may be poles apart in terms of pedigree and tradition but they are both sides who, on the evidence of the last two weeks' showings, can perform at that higher intensity, pace and physicality which make them stand out above their rivals at this level.
Moseley's day began badly when Nathan Bressington reported ill, resulting in a forced reshuffle of their back-line, with Dan Norton moving to full back, and Ali James taking his place out of position at wing. Then came the worst possible start.
Moseley self-combusted at the kick-off, losing the ball to Chiefs who worked the blind-side cleverly to fashion a short-range try for flanker Andy Miller all within one minute.
They then regrouped, however, and had the best of the first quarter without troubling the scoreboard operator. They were getting little change in the home 22 out of the feisty Exeter defence when a lost ball bounced rather cruelly, and with a couple of deft passes Chiefs' prolific try-scoring winger Jason Luff ran three-quarters of the length of the pitch for the first of what was to become an excellent hat-trick of scores.
Both first-half scores were smoothly converted by former Bristol fly half Danny Gray, who was to be a major source of trouble for the Moseley defence all afternoon. Inside Gray was the even more influential Clive Stuart-Smith, and on this showing you would be well-pushed to see a better half back partnership outside of the Premiership.
With a deficit of 14 points at the break Moseley came out for the second half seem-ingly galvanised by their own and their coaches' reflections, and put real pressure on the home side's pack, in particular at the scrummage, in which pugnacious tight-head prop Terry Sigley was outstanding. This led to big territorial gains, but the Chiefs' had the more incisive backs, and seemingly each time Moseley lost the ball the Devonside counterattacked in coruscating fashion.
A chip ahead was taken on the full by Stuart-Smith, who stepped his way past the Moseley defence, and that man Luff was once more on the end of a 70 metre scoring move. Again the Billesley Common outfit drove back through the forwards, forcing a line-out in the corner from which captain Neil Mason was driven over.
This try was converted by fly-half Neil Stenhouse, signed recently from Nottingham, whose first full game in red and black evoked some promise. The Moseley pack now seemed to be getting the upper hand, but a lost ball and a contentious penalty signalled by the touch judge allowed Exeter to kick for the corner.
When their attempt to force the ball over was rebuffed, the Exeter backs cleverly worked another opening and that man Luff was on hand to run in under the posts for the bonus point try which was again converted by Gray.
It was this extra cutting edge which was damaging Moseley who continued to enjoy territorial advantage in the last quarter, and when a speculative chip was gathered deep in their own territory, the Chiefs' backs again provided another long-range try, this time scored by full back Sean Marsden.
Moseley did have the last word, however, when they again drove through the forwards for James Rodwell to get the final try of the match, converted by Stenhouse. Head Coach Ian Smith was sanguine in defeat.
"The Northampton game last week took a lot out of us mentally and physically, and we did not perform to our best today," he said. "There were a number of plus-points, though which we can take into the fixtures ahead."