Esher chase local bragging rights

By MARK BENGOECHEA

ESHER go in search of a league double and local bragging rights in Friday night's rearranged home derby against Barnes.

The Eees won a 14-try thriller 61-34 at Barn Elms in September with Tom James scoring a hat-trick to help his side notch up their first win of the campaign.

But the conditions will be very different on Friday at Molesey Road and Esher Director of Rugby Peter Winterbottom says there will be no room for complacency against their local rivals.

Barnes have climbed away from the National Two Division South relegation zone on the back of five victories in their last eight, claiming an impressive 26-10 win over Old Redcliffians on their last outing and now reside in 12th place.

They have also notched up fine wins on their travels, beating Redruth, Old Albanian and Bury St Edmunds and will have no fears about going to Molesey Road as they hunt revenge for their home defeat in September.

Winterbottom said: "Barnes are the sort of side that if you give them time and space, they will play. They have some talented players, so we're aware that we'll have to be on our game.

"Our game at Barnes earlier in the season was played in the sunshine on a hard pitch so this is going to be very different. It'll be a tough old night.

"They beat Bury St Edmunds away a few weeks ago and have got themselves out of the relegation zone and are on a bit of a roll. They have also pushed a few of the top sides pretty close. They'll be a dangerous side.

"They have some talented players, they move the ball well and if they got some space they can score tries, that's for sure."

Esher, whose game at Taunton last Saturday was postponed, are in eighth place in National Two South and are hoping to build on a four-match unbeaten run and finish the season in style.

Winterbottom makes two changes to the starting line-up for Friday with a new second-row pairing of Fraser Wem and Hugh Sloan. That is because Cam Gentles is unavailable while Adam Bullett is on the bench.

James Chaumeton continues at fly-half in tandem with Jack Walsh as Sam Bullock joins Gaz Lewis, Osh Kearney and Lorcan Dow on the replacements bench.

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