Surrey u21 Competition 9th April
RESULT: Richmond u21 27 v Esher u21 12
Esher’s U21 cup campaign burst into life finally at Richmond last night in a thrilling high tempo game which was until late on very much in the balance.
Richmond are perennial favourites in this competition – finalists most years, so it was an even greater achievement to field just 17 players against the permissible 23 and hold them 8-7 at the break.
From the off Richmond showed real flair, a dangerous back three running everything they were given but slowly steadily being thwarted by resilient defence from the Esher youngsters, most noticeably by on the near flank . It’s a bit cliché to talk of underdogs and backs against the wall, but this hastily put together side, including 9 of Esher’s u18 for the first time at this level, were not prepared to just make up the numbers.
Defence turned to attack time and again – Coach Craig Jacoby pacing the touchline, itching to be 20 again. Richmond scored out wide but failed to convert, and perhaps their mindset started to change when a penalty kick was opted for, when more direct tactics were falling short. Leading 8-0 the possession swapped back and forth but time and again Esher pressured the ‘Mond line and just reward came just on the break with a try from promising back row Tom Whitehurst running at #8 for the first time. Conversion by Harry Mobbs slotting in at 10 from 9 brought huge belief to the young Lions.
With the Richmond bench full and readily at disposal, it was another blistering start as both sides looked to play unbelievably quick rugby. Rotating the two subs available on the night, Jacoby maximised what he had to hand and the loss of skipper Bristow for a short time with a blood injury only seemed to further galvanise the side. Inevitably holes started to appear as the half progressed and fatigue kicked in. The scoreboard ticked on.
Heads never went down though and eventually a second try came through ball being played away wide from the touchline. Centre Jake O’Leary was the benefactor bursting inside the stretched defence.
A final surge from Richmond brought due reward, further points and the whistle.
Richmond progresses to the Cup semi-final and we wish them the best of luck in continuing their excellent record in the competition.
Esher moves to the plate semi-final away to Old Walcountonians next Weds evening 16th April where they’ll face stiff opposition again. If anything like tonight it should be a cracker!
Esher MoM: Ayomi Obanubi – Outstanding in both attack and defence all night.