Esher must step up to the plate
By MARK BENGOECHEA
PETER WINTERBOTTOM will demand a massive improvement against title challengers Clifton at Molesey Road on Saturday following the shock loss at Westcliff last weekend.
The Eees Director of Rugby had warned his side to expect a committed Westcliff side on the day they celebrated the opening of their new Essex ground.
But Esher turned in one of their poorest displays of the season and any repeat will surely see Clifton escape with the spoils as the West Country side attempt to get their own promotion bid back on track.
The Bristol side had been in stunning form with recent victories over fellow promotion contenders Tonbridge and Henley helping them to a four-match unbeaten run.
But they suffered a shock 35-30 home defeat to Redruth last Saturday to leave them in fourth place in National Two South and will be eager to put that right at Molesey Road.
The game marks the halfway point in the campaign and Esher must win if they are to mount any kind of promotion challenge, however unlikely that appears now following a run of four defeats in their last five.
Winterbottom makes five changes from the side that suffered their sixth defeat of the season at Westcliff, who had won only two of their previous 13 matches.
Tom Lloyd steps in at tighthead with Xavier Valentine unavailable while in the second row, Adam Bullett starts as Hugh Sloan drops to the bench.
The other change in the pack sees Charlie Gossington return to skipper the side. He is at openside with Cam Wilkins switching to the other flank.
There are two other changes to the side with James Chaumeton returning at outside centre to partner Sam Druce in midfield while Tom Mitchell moves from centre to the wing in place of James Booth