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Match report 02/09/2017 Esher Rugby vs Old Elthamians

Esher

39 - 14

Old Elthamians

Esher vs Old Elthamians

Match Report, Saturday 2nd September 2017 (by Phil Wigley)

 

Esher opened their season with a hard fought win over newly promoted Old Elthamians at a sun-drenched Molesey Road on Saturday, running in five tries to two against a side which contained in its ranks former 1st XV captain and fans’ favourite, Ian Kench.

The home side started the match brightly, but struggled to break down a strong and well organised Old Elthamians defence during the initial exchanges.  In fact, it was the visitors who opened the scoring after 12 minutes.  Following a penalty in the middle of the field, OEs kicked to the corner and launched a series of drives from the resulting line-out.  Winger Dominic Lespierre then collected the ball and went on a jinking run, slipping a couple of tackles before diving over the line.  Fly-half Joe Carlisle added the conversion with a difficult kick from the touchline, to make the score 7-0 to OEs.

Esher battled back well and reduced the deficit to 7-3, fly-half Paul Roberts converting a penalty in front of the posts after 22 minutes.

Shortly after the half hour mark, Esher centre Joe Brown spotted a gap around the halfway line and cut inside his opposite number, making a powerful break before passing to debutant Niall Saunders.   Still with a lot to do, Saunders showed a good turn of pace to arc round the full-back and dot the ball down just to the side of the posts.  Paul Roberts duly added the extras, taking the scoreline to Esher 10 OEs 7.

Clearly lifted by the score, Esher now began to play with much more verve and confidence.  A strong run in the middle of the field by flanker Cameron Gentles resulted in the ball being spread wide to the left-hand touchline, only for wing Saunders to be thwarted by a good cover tackle from Lespierre.

A second try was not long in coming however.  Fly-half Roberts made a sharp break just outside the OEs 22, before slipping an inside pass to another Esher new boy, Kariym Irving.  Again, there was work to do, but the winger managed to accelerate and muscle his way past the defence to score under the posts.  Roberts added the conversion to take the half time score to 17-7 in Esher’s favour.

Esher extended their lead 9 minutes into the second half, another Paul Roberts penalty taking the scoreline to 20-7.  Unfortunately there was then a lengthy delay to the game, caused by a serious looking injury to the Esher fly-half, who subsequently left the field on a stretcher. 

When play finally resumed, it was OEs who took the initiative, recycling the ball well and going through several phases before scrum-half Ollie Claxton darted over in the corner.  Joe Carlisle again added a tricky conversion from the touchline.

With the match evenly poised at 20-14, Esher began to reassert themselves and take charge of the final quarter.  Securing possession after the restart, a penalty was kicked long to the far touchline.  From the resulting line-out, some strong carries by the forwards gave scrum-half Andy Garner the platform to pick and go through a gap in the defence, scoring under the posts from close range.  Full-back Lloyd Davies added the conversion to restore Esher’s lead to 27-14.

Esher’s bonus try, and arguably the best score of the game, followed shortly afterwards.  Deep inside his own half, replacement prop Cameron Leigh broke the first tackle before offloading to front row colleague, Billy Harding.  Harding then accelerated down the touchline, drew his man and released winger Spencer Sutherland just beyond the halfway line.  Esher’s record try scorer still had two defenders to beat, but turned on the speed to finish in the left-hand corner and bring the home supporters to their feet.  The conversion was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 32-14.

OE’s fought back again from the restart, mounting a series of attacks in the Esher 22 with their forwards and backs combining well to stretch the home defence.  Just when it seemed that their endeavours would be rewarded however, the final pass was spilled and Esher regained possession.

The hosts rounded off the afternoon with a fifth try scored by flanker Cameron Gentles, following good work by Andy Garner to force a turnover.  Lloyd Davies added the conversion, bringing the final score to 39-14.

Overall it was a positive afternoon for the men from Surrey, playing some incisive running rugby at times, scoring five tries in the process and overcoming a tough Old Elthamians outfit, who look well equipped to establish themselves in National League One.

 

Phil Wigley

Team: 15 Lloyd Davies; 14 Kariym Irving, 13 Joe Brown, 12 Spencer Sutherland, 11 Niall Saunders; 10 Paul Roberts, 9 Tom Trotter; 1 Karl Furey, 2 Callum O'Connell, 3 Cameron Zeiss; 4 Liam Edwards, 5 Ollie Marriott; 6 Cameron Gentles, 7 Charlie Gossington, 8 Ali Bone.

Bench: 16 Billy Harding, 17 Cameron Leigh, 18 Hugo Seccombe, 19 Callum Monks, 20 Andy Garner

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