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Match Report: Esher dominate Park to win 32-17

Esher vs Rosslyn Park

Match Report, Saturday 16th September 2017 

by Philip Wigley

Esher overcame local rivals Rosslyn Park in a bruising encounter at Molesey Road on Saturday, securing a bonus point victory and ending a three season winless streak against their south-west London neighbours.

A downpour an hour before kick-off meant that the match was played on a greasy surface, but it was the hosts who adapted better to the conditions in the first half.  The opening exchanges were fiercely contested, and following some jarring collisions and powerful hits in the midfield, Esher soon took the lead in the 8th minute through a Paul Roberts penalty.

The home side then began to assert themselves with a series of driving mauls, and when fly-half Roberts hoisted a perfectly placed kick to the right-hand corner, the Park defence failed to deal with the bounce and wing Kariym Irving gratefully dived on the ball to score the first try of the match.  Roberts struck the post with the attempted conversion from the touchline, leaving the score at Esher 8-Rosslyn Park 0 after 14 minutes.

Park secured possession from the restart, and were awarded with a penalty in the 18th minute in front of the posts.  Fly-half Harry Leonard slotted the kick to reduce the score to 8-3 in Esher’s favour.

Winger Irving then grabbed his second try of the afternoon with 21 minutes on the clock.  An attempted kick ahead by his opposite number went directly into the big arms of the Esher flyer at close range.  Catching the Park defence flat-footed, Irving briefly juggled the ball before accelerating and powering home from just inside the visitor’s half.  Roberts converted to take the score to Esher 15-Rosslyn Park 3.

A further Paul Roberts penalty on 39 minutes following a high tackle increased Esher’s lead to 18-3 at half time.

When play resumed, it was the visitors who took control of proceedings in the third quarter, with Esher unable to retain possession or clear their lines for long periods of time.  Eventually the pressure told and Park scrum-half Will Crow went over for a try near the posts on 56 minutes, with fly-half Leonard adding the extras to reduce the gap to 18-10.

The pressure continued to mount as Esher openside Charlie Gossington was sent to the sin bin following a succession of penalties against the home side.  However, some resolute defending and uncompromising tackling from the Esher forwards ensured that their lead remained intact during the 10 minute period.

Park piled forward in search of a second try, but it was the 14 men of Esher who battled back to take the next score, with a dominant scrum by the home pack being rewarded with a penalty.  From the resulting kick to touch, the ball was worked back infield and a short pass from hooker Billy Harding found centre Joe Brown, who quickly shipped the ball to Kariym Irving.  Right wing Irving surged forward and drew in the defensive line, before placing a deft grubber kick between the Park centres.  The ball sat up nicely into the arms of Spencer Sutherland coming across from the opposite wing, who galloped away to score from the Park 10 metre line.  Roberts added the extras to take Esher’s lead back up to 25-10.

Having apparently weathered the storm, it looked as if Esher would now go on to close out the game.  However, Park got themselves back into contention on 73 minutes, when left wing Russell Weir ran a good line to evade the first tackle, before being brought down just outside the Esher 22.  The ball was recycled quickly before the home defence could realign, and fly-half Leonard dived over from close range, converting his own try to bring the score to 25-17.

 

With the clock ticking down, it was Esher who had the final say of the afternoon.  Following a penalty kick to the corner, the ball was secured at the line-out and replacement prop Matthew Lowes crashed over the line to score the home side’s fourth try of the day.  Roberts added the conversion to seal a well-earned 32-17 win and send the Esher faithful home smiling.

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