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Esher vs Cambridge Match Report: by Philip Wigley

Esher vs Cambridge

Match Report, Saturday 10th December 2017

Esher slipped to a second league defeat in a row on Saturday, losing 13-10 to visitors Cambridge in a closely fought contest at Molesey Road.

On another bitingly cold afternoon, it was the away side who were quickest out of the blocks, opening the scoring after just 2 minutes with a try from prop Ben Ibrahim.  A penalty in the middle of the field was kicked deep into the Esher 22, and from the resulting lineout, the Cambridge forwards rumbled their way over the line for Ibrahim to come up with the score.  The conversion was added, to take the scoreline to 7-0 in the visitor’s favour.

Esher’s response was rapid however, and when a lineout was gathered in the Cambridge 22, the home forwards launched a driving maul of their own towards the try line.  The Cambridge defence initially managed to check the drive, but the Esher pack found an extra gear to send hooker Billy Harding over in the corner.  Paul Roberts added a tricky conversion from the touchline to level the scores after 7 minutes.

Cambridge and Esher then exchanged penalties in the 10th and 16th minutes respectively, but with the scores level at 10 apiece, the flow of the game became disrupted by a series of stoppages and injuries.  Neither side managed to make any further headway, until the visitors took the lead in the 38th minute through a penalty for a scrum infringement just to the right of the Esher posts.  The referee blew for half-time shortly afterwards, with Cambridge leading 13-10 at the break.

When play resumed, it was the home side who made the brighter start, with another driving maul being held up just short of the Cambridge line in the opening minutes.  The visiting defence managed to absorb Esher’s early attacks however, and after regaining possession Cambridge were able to clear their lines and advance up the field.

Unfortunately from a spectating perspective the second half failed to ignite, with no further scores being added to the half-time tally, but it was Cambridge who came closest to breaking the deadlock when full-back Mike Artyon was held up over the line in the closing stages.  From the resulting 5 metre scrum, Esher’s defence held firm and the ball was eventually turned over to relieve the pressure.

Esher nearly snatched the victory in the dying moments of the game, when centre Caden Murley made a searing break from within his own half, before being brought down just inside the Cambridge 22.  The support runners did well to keep up with Murley’s mazy run, but the ball was spilled forwards after the tackle, and Cambridge gratefully regained possession to hold on for the win.

On what turned out to be a frustrating afternoon for the home side, Esher will perhaps feel that they failed to do themselves justice with a strangely subdued performance.  And whilst they can take the small consolation of securing a losing bonus point for their efforts, credit must go to Cambridge for a hard fought and well-earned victory.



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