Esher Cardinals 12-21 Rosslyn Park Rangers

The first Friday night floodlit match of the season produced a pulsating match between two competitive 2nd XVs. The travelling Rosslyn Park supporters sadly outnumbered the Esher supporters who missed a game with some exhilarating back play.

Esher were handicapped up front by the absence of their two second rows Fraser Wem and Alex Stanley but DoR Peter Winterbottom's strategy of integrating the top 3 teams paid off with 4 players stepping up from the Abbots and Myles Rawstron-Rudd, unavailable on Friday, playing for the Abbots on Saturday.

Rosslyn Park's forwards dominated the first half, setting up 2 tries, which ultimately proved decisive, although captain Hugo Solway and his back-row colleagues Rordon Daws and Lia Thornton competed ferociously while Josh Jordan and Jack Jakeman carried with power and purpose. It was also evident in the first half that the Esher centres, Man of the Match Fergus Donnelly and Paul Webb could create space with relative ease.

The second half saw Esher's forwards strengthen with the introduction of Andy Hamilton, returning from injury, and Stephen Hegarty for Gaz Lewis and Emmett Murphy while Tom Richardson and Joel Keefe continued to work hard. The introduction of James Chaumeton at fly half for Sam Druce improved the tactical kicking and allowed Donnelly and Webb much more freedom. They used this to good effect creating spaces for Greogair Hogg and enabling Cam Roberts, replacing an injured Ted Drayson, to cut through for two tries, one converted by James Chaumeton. Park pulled one try back but were largely under pressure all half from the Esher backline.

Cam Roberts had replaced Rhodri Adamson who had defended strongly in the first half, both benefitting from the excellent awareness and passing of Gus Locke at scrum-half. Late on Ben Potter replaced Locke and Rory Smith, newly joined from Watsonians, had a spell on the wing in place of Hogg.

As well as excellent back play mention should also be made of the number of turnovers achieved by the back row, actions which ended several promising Park attacks and gave the whole side the confidence that they could compete.

An excellent evening's entertainment with a lively Clubhouse atmosphere after the match helped by bar food being available and the first fire of the year! If you weren't there you missed a real occasion.

By Nigel Scott

23rd October 2021