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​Esher desperate for bragging rights and another double

By MARK BENGOECHEA

ESHER will be hoping to bottle the magic formula they discovered in Leicester last week when they face local rivals Sutton and Epsom at Molesey Road on Saturday.

The Eees produced one of their finest performances of the season to beat Leicester Lions 20-17 to claim their first league double and a first awayday victory since October.

Director of Rugby Peter Winterbottom was delighted with the attitude and resolve of his players as they picked up their 10th win of the season but only their fourth on their travels.

Now Winterbottom hopes there will no complacency as they take on a Sutton side struggling against relegation and desperate to end a run of six straight defeats.

Esher beat their local rivals 38-6 back in September but Sutton, coached by former Esher chief Mike Schmid, gave them plenty of problems and Winterbottom conceded the scoreline did not reflect the game as a whole.

Winterbottom said: "It's a local derby so I'd like to think the players will be using that as motivation as much as anything else. We know Sutton have had an up and down season with some good results so it's hard to know what team will turn up. They ran Taunton very close and then lost heavily at Tonbridge.

"But it's a local derby and there will be bragging rights as to who's the best local side but I'm confident the players will be up for the game. The game in September was certainly closer than the scoreline suggests. We did play reasonably well on that day, but we can't take anything for granted."

Winterbottom hopes his players will replicate the approach to last week's game at Leicester that saw them claim their first National League Division Two double of the campaign against a side who had been in fifth place.

He said: "It was certainly the first time when we have gone away from home and put in as near-as-dammit an 80-minute performance, so it was massively encouraging.

"There were some good individual performances but generally as a team our defence was strong and we didn't give away cheap points, which is what we have been doing in recent games.

"We knew it was going to be an extremely difficult match to get a result in and I think the players' attitude in the build-up to the game was good and they played with a lot of passion and courage.

"We'd stuttered against other sides recently and it was nice to see a positive reaction from the players and get back to the game that we know we can play."

Winterbottom makes two changes to his starting XV against Sutton with Tristan Roberts returning at fly-half in place of James Chaumeton, who is unavailable. The second change is also at half-back where Jack Walsh takes the No9 jersey from Sam Bullock, who is on the bench.

Winterbottom added: "James went well at fly-half, but he is unavailable this week, so Tristan comes back into the side. He had an injury and we felt he needed to have a week of rehab so hopefully he's coming back stronger."

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