By Alex Lambe @lamborugby
Esher record back to back bonus point wins with an impressive victory over Cinderford to re-invigorate their title challenge.
After getting back to winning ways with a comprehensive win over relegation threatened Hull Ionians last time out, the EEE’s were keen to establish a good winning run before Christmas by finishing off Cinderford in their final home game of the calendar year.
Esher started off the better team and got themselves on the scoreboard with only 4 minutes on the clock. A Luke Daniels penalty after Cinderford was penalised for not rolling away gave the home side an early 3-0 lead.
Esher then extended that lead with a well-read interception try from winger Ashley Smith. Cinderford countered from inside their own half but the long pass was easily read by the winger and he cantered home for the score. Luke Daniels slotted the kick and Esher led 10-0 after 7 minutes.
Both sides had numerous opportunities to cross the whitewash but neither could take advantage. Esher had a great chance as a superb break from Mike Macfarlane took the EEE’s up field.
An overlap out wide was not utilised as the pass went astray and the chance had gone. Cinderford couldn’t take their chances as they were constantly turned over by some impressive Esher defence.
It took until the 31st minute for the next score to come, but what a try it was. Mike Macfarlane, who had been having a storming game, broke through two weak tackles and sprinted home to touch down. Daniels converted and Esher was beginning to gain the upper hand as they led 17-0.
The EEE’s then finished off the half in style, as a powerful catch and drive ended up with prop Dave Millard coming up with the ball. Luke Daniels converted once more and that brought an end to an impressive 1st half for Esher.
HALF-TIME: Esher 24-0 Cinderford
Cinderford had an early penalty opportunity at the beginning of the 2nd half, but the kick drifted wide despite a good strike. However it was Esher who began the 2nd half as they ended the 1st, as an incisive run from the scrum-half created space for winger Spencer Sutherland to cross the line, finishing off with a trademark dive.
Luke Daniels missed the conversion but the EEE’s had crossed for the 4th try of the game.
Cinderford was not giving in and a great break from their scrum-half set up territory in the Esher 22. However the ball was turned over and a 5m scrum was awarded to the home side. The scrum went beyond 90 and gave possession back to Cinderford.
After being penalised for going off their feet Esher was soon reduced to 14 men as Cameron Gentles was given 10 for coming in at the side of the maul.
Things got worse for Esher as they were soon two men down as Captain Neil Sweeney was also given a yellow card for hands in the ruck.
However despite being two men light, the Esher pack produced a magnificent drive at scrum time and turned over the ball, enabling them to clear their lines.
Not long afterwards came the eagerly anticipated return of Esher club favourite Tom Cheeseman, as he replaced Arran Cruickshanks.
Cinderford eventually capitalised on the 2 man advantage as centre Jack Adams spotted a gap in the Esher defence and touched down to score. The conversion was missed and Esher led 29-5 with 20 minutes remaining. The EEE’s were then restored back to 15 men as Gentles and Sweeney returned from the bin.
Esher then sealed the contest in style, as Mike Macfarlane grabbed his 2nd try of the match as he cantered home after a beautifully delayed pass from fly-half Mickey Wilson. Luke Daniels converted the try and extended the gap to 36-5 with 10 minutes of the game remaining.
The final few minutes saw both sides attempt to run the ball but neither could capitalise on opportunities. The final whistle was soon blown for full-time.
A great win for Esher who aim to maintain their title challenge. Next up is a tough away trip to Henley Hawks.
FULL-TIME: Esher 36-5 Cinderford