Esher beaten despite Morley's double blast
Bishop's Stortford 38
National League 1 Saturday December 3
Written by Richard Spiller
Two fine individual tries from Sam Morley could not save Esher from defeat at Bishop's Stortford.
Following wins over Chinnor and Hull – their first of the season, following a start of nine successive defeats – the Elmbridge side were hoping to make it three in a row and climb away from trouble.
But the hosts, established in the top six, proved rather sterner opponents and five tries ensured they prevailed.
In a stop-start first half, Stortford went ahead after 11 minutes when wing Jake Morris switched inside to set up scrum-half Chris Bolton's try, Dan Cole adding the extras.
Morley responded by kicking two penalties, the second on 25 minutes reducing the deficit to a point, but with the interval moments away hooker Alex Rayment touched down for his side's second score and Cole completed a tricky conversion.
Esher's concerning habit of conceding just before intervals has hindered their cause through the campaign and they suffered further by conceding again just after it through second row Harry Charter, Cole converting again.
The match took a twist when home centre Austin Pope was handed a yellow card and the visitors took their opportunity, fly-half Morley underlining his importance to the side by producing a fine try on 56 minutes, repeating it on the hour and converting both to be within one point again.
But Stortford's extra power up front proved key, forcing Esher into conceding a penalty try for which flanker Ben Atkins was dispatched for 10 minutes, a Morley penalty cancelled out by Cole's effort at the other end.
The home side sealed victory with four minutes remaining, Jack Stannard latching on to a kick and racing through for a converted effort, so that substitute James Botterill's converted try in the final moments could only reduce the margin of defeat.
Esher return to Molesey Road on Saturday, hosting mid-table Darlington Mowden Park in the final home game of the year. They head to fourth-placed Rosslyn Park six days later for what should be a hard-fought derby clash.
Games to come (home in bold) –Sat Dec 10: Darlington MP; Fri 16: Rosslyn Park; Sat Jan 7: Birmingham Moseley; Sat 14: Leeds Tykes; Sat 21: Plymouth Albion; Sat 28: Taunton; Sat Feb 18: Sale FC; Sat 25: Cinderford; Sat March 4: Cambridge; Sat 11: Chinnor; Sat 25: Hull; Sat April 1: Bishop's Stortford; Sat 15: Darlington MP; Sat 22: Rams