By Alex Lambe @rugby_lambo214
Back from the brink!
A last gasp Luke Daniels penalty caps a remarkable last quarter as Esher snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Fylde
Confidence was high at Molesey Road. A superb bonus point victory away at Worthing last weekend kept Esher within reach of table toppers Doncaster.
The opening exchanges saw loads of dominant Fylde pressure with one phase of play almost bringing about the game’s 1st try but the visitors could not quite capitalise as the pass went astray.
Esher then had a good attacking opportunity themselves unfortunately like the visitors could not capitalise on good pressure and the ball was turned over.
A kick to the corner brought around a penalty which Esher won from a scrum after Fylde were penalised for standing up. Daniels had no problems slotting the kick and Esher took an early 3-0 lead after 17 minutes.
But the visitors hit straight back with the 1st try of the game. A superb break from winger Oli Brennand set up territory in the Esher 22. The EEE’s briefly thought they had turned the ball over but got penalised for sealing off and from the quick tap fly-half Chris Johnson powered over. The outside half was unsuccessful with his conversion. Fylde led 5-3 with 22 minutes gone.
Fylde were dominating territory and possession. A counter attack almost created a great opportunity for winger Ben Rath but the bounce from a little chip kick was unkind.
But the pressure soon told as they scored their 2nd try of the through inside centre Stephen Briers. A powerful 5 metre scrum created a platform for the backs to attack and the centre powered over from close range. Johnson slotted the conversion and that was deemed to be the last action of the half.
Half-time: Esher 3-12 Fylde
The boys came back out for the 2nd half and knew that a big performance was required.
Within a few minutes of the 2nd half getting underway Esher hit straight back with a try through Stewart Maguire who powered over from close range. Daniels converted and brought Esher back within 2 points at 12-10 to Fylde after 46 minutes.
The next few minutes saw chances created for both sides but neither taking advantage of their opportunities.
Fylde then scored their 3rd try of the game through winger Oli Brennand who latched upon a neat Chris Johnson grubber kick to score. Johnson missed the conversion but extended the lead to 17-10 with 63 minutes gone.
They then scored the 4th try and bonus point as flanker Steve McGinnis went over the whitewash after neat build up play. Johnson converted this time and extended the lead to 14 points with 15 minutes remaining.
However all was not over just yet as Esher winger Ashley Smith (below) crossed for the try after a series of quick tap penalties released the speedster down the right flank. Daniels converted and brought the EEE’s back within 7 at 24-17 to the visitors.
Things got worse for Fylde as hooker Mark Rylance was sent to the bin for a cynical infringement at the breakdown.
Esher took advantage and scored a brilliant try in the corner through full-back Luke Daniels who converted his own try to level the scores at 24 a piece with only a minute remaining.
A last ditch attempt to run the ball from their own half led to a brilliant break by Daniels who surged up field taking territory inside the Fylde 22. When Fylde didn’t roll away at the tackle Daniels had a penalty kick with the last play of the game to win it for the hosts. He duly obliged and Esher had snatched a last gasp win from the jaws of defeat.
A tough test against a very well drilled and exciting Fylde side who no doubt will have a strong season. Next up is a tough away trip to Loughborough Students.
FULL-TIME: Esher 27-24 Fylde