Being spurred on by ex-players seemed to do the trick for Esher as they run in six tries for their first win in 2017.
Amid the concerns of a frozen pitch, Esher and Fylde put on a performance full of commitment and attacking rugby where those that braved the cold saw ten tries in a must win game for both great rugby clubs.
The opening exchanges saw Esher with the lion share of possession and territory however with the occasional handling errors and loss of footing the Fylde defence held strong. After some sustained forward pressure Esher broke the deadlock to score their first try of the game. At the scrum the ball was retained and passed quickly from the base to Paul Roberts who delayed his pass to Tom Cheeseman, who ghosted through the Fylde centres to score under the posts, the conversion was good and Esher led 7-0 with 15 minutes gone.
Fylde then replied with a penalty after the Esher defence held firm. Esher responded directly from the kick off as Fylde attempted to run out of their 22, Tom James intercepted the ball and was tackled just short of the try line, the ball was secured and Charlie Gossington snuck in to score his third try of the season. Paul Roberts stepped up and converted the try, Esher led 14-3 with 25 minutes gone.
Esher now went in search of more tries, and within 5 minutes they had their third of the game. Fylde under pressure on their own try line cleared the ball to halfway where the ball was fielded by Joe Beckett, the ball was passed inside to Stephen Boatman who jinxed his way into the Fylde 22. Esher went through the phases attacking right to left until Paul Roberts found a whole in the Fylde defence and passed to Andrew Garner who jogged through to score from 5 metres out. The conversion was successful and Esher led 21-3 with 10 minutes left in the first half.
Fylde restarted and went on the attack but Esher’s defence was excellent and after 5 minutes of sustained pressure the ball was won at the breakdown by a combination of a huge Hugo Seccombe tackle and Tom Yellowlees’ jackaling. Andrew Garner noticed the opportunity to go wide, the ball was spun out to Paul Roberts who released the lightning quick Joe Beckett, he ran unopposed into the Fylde half where is drew in the covering Fylde fullback before passing to Andrew Garner who returned the ball back to Joe Beckett to run in and score under the posts. The conversion was made and Esher led 28-3 with 4 minutes left in the first half.
The shine of Esher’s first half performance was taken off with Fylde’s first try of the game, after Fylde mounted attack after attack in the Esher half, they scored by a collection of quick pick and drives and a missed tackle 5 metres out allowed them to score under the posts. At half time the score was 28-10.
It took Esher just 5 minutes after the start of the second half to score their fifth try of the game. This try was conceived from inside their own half. A secure platform from a scrum 10 metres inside their half started a move that saw Stephen Boatman storm through the Fylde defence, he passed inside to Andrew Garner who stepped the on rushing tackler, he popped the ball inside to Joe Brown who was tackled just inside the Fylde 22, as he went to ground he passed the ball back to Andrew Garner to score his second of the game and eighth of the season. Paul Roberts continued his 100% kicking rate and Esher led 35-10.
Fylde’s heads didn’t drop and they went on the attack (as is their style of play) and a delicate chip over the Esher defensive line saw the ball bounce kindly into their second row’s hands and he ran in from 30 metres out to score under the posts. The score was now 35-17 with 30 minutes left.
The Fylde attacking pressure continued to mount and Esher were reduced to 14 men when Joe Beckett was judged to be playing the ball whilst off his feet. It was a tough decision as he won the ball as he was taken off his feet. However Fylde now with the extra man lay siege on the Esher try line and scored their third try of the game out wide. The conversion was unsuccessful and Esher still led 35-22 with 20 minutes remaining.
The game continued at a frenetic pace with both teams showing their attacking intent, as possession and territory ebbed and flowed. Esher scored their final try of the game by a Tom James intercept. He snatched onto a loose pass from inside the Esher half to run in from 70 metres to score. Paul Roberts slotted the conversion and the scoreboard stated 42-22 with 8 minutes to go.
Fylde then pushed on for the try bonus point which they earnt by way of a driving lineout from 5 metres out. The conversion was successful and the score was now 42-29. Fylde attempted to get within 7 points but due to resolute defence they knocked on and the referee called time. Full time 42-29.
Up next Coventry away, can Esher win at the Butts Park Arena for the second season in succession…COME ON YOU EEE’S!
Tries: Tom Cheeseman, Charlie Gossington, Andrew Garner (2), Joe Beckett and Tom James
Conversions: Paul Roberts (6)
By Simon Clemmey
1. 1. Karl Furey
2. Neil Sweeny
3. Cameron Zeiss
4. Oliver Marriot
5. Cameron Gentles
6. Tom Yellowlees
7. Charlie Gossington
8. Hugo Seccombe
9. Andrew Garner
10. Paul Roberts (c)
11. Tom James
12. Tom Cheeseman
13. Joe Brown
14. Joe Beckett
15. Stephen Boatman
16. Cameron Leigh
17. Delvin Hope
18. Tom Whitehurst
19. Callum Waters
20. Spencer Sutherland