Esher told to 'meet fire with fire'

By MARK BENGOECHEA

ESHER have been told to "meet fire with fire" against Bury St Edmunds on Saturday to stand a chance of avenging their defeat in Suffolk in September.

The Eees return to Molesey Road still smarting from last week's patchy display at Dings Crusaders that saw them go down 45-33 and leave them in ninth spot in National League Division Two South.

Director of Rugby Peter Winterbottom admits he is frustrated by their inability to produce a consistent 80-minute performance on the road but hopes a side showing six changes can pick up their game on home soil, where they have won six of their seven league games.

Esher went down 24-14 to Bury four months ago and the Suffolk side's victory over Clifton last Saturday saw the Wolfpack climb above the Eees into eighth spot on points difference, with the sides now having identical league records of nine wins from 16 games.

Winterbottom said: "Bury St Edmunds are another quite powerful side. They've got a solid forward pack and are quite abrasive up front. To be successful, we've got to match them physically, so it's going to be a hard day for us.

"They defend well, apply a lot of pressure to scrum and lineout and are very much a pressure side, so we are going to have to meet fire with fire. To be able to play the game we want to play, we are going to have to front up.

"Our home record is relatively good, but we need as near to an 80-minute performance as we can achieve. We know that when we do play well and control the tempo of the game, we're a good side. But we've got to apply ourselves and we need an 80-minute performance."

Winterbottom admits his side's inconsistency is a source of frustration and last week's defeat at Dings was a typical example, losing 31-14 at half-time only to storm back with 19 unanswered points only to fall short again.

Winterbottom said: "Some of it was very good, some very bad. Our defence in the first half was poor and gave ourselves too much to do. We gave away soft points in both halves, especially in the first half. Our defence was not up to scratch.

"Ultimately the team's defensive effort was below par and that manifested itself in individuals getting out of position and missing tackles. In fairness, Dings played well. They had a big side, a big pack, and we didn't quite match it. It was a frustrating afternoon.

"But we showed in that game that we can play well and for half an hour we were the dominant side, but we need to do that for 80 minutes. It's getting our mindset right and getting our defensive sets right."

The Black and Ambers make six changes to the side from the defeat in Bristol last weekend with three up front and three in the backs. Andy Hamilton starts at hooker in place of the injured Devlin Hope, Adam Bullett comes into the second row for Hugh Sloan and Ben Davies starts in the back row.

Jack Walsh reclaims the scrum-half jersey with Sam Bullock on the bench, Lennox Anwanyu partners Sam Druce in midfield and Tom James comes in for Tom Mitchell on the right wing.

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Esher 1st XV Line up to face Bury St Edmunds