Magic Bullett leads Esher charge to vital victory
Cinderford 35 Esher 47
National League 1 - Saturday February 25
Written by Richard Spiller
Two tries from skipper Adam Bullett boosted Esher's survival hopes as they won a high-scoring clash at Cinderford.
It puts them in good heart for Saturday's home clash against second-placed Cambridge, which begins a crucial month in the Elmbridge side's fortunes.
A season which started with nine straight defeats has improved considerably over the past three months but this was only the third success away from home and the first against a team in the top half of the table.
Es trailed for large periods of the match against a Cinderford who were reduced to 14 men when flanker Mason Tonks was sent off, for a punch, in the 33rd minute. But the visitors went ahead decisively on the hour through wing Dan Rowland in a clash which produced 12 tries.
Harry Hone put the Gloucestershire in front after only two minutes, breaking off from a maul, Mike Wilcox converting successfully as he would do four more times. But Esher struck back on nine minutes, wing Rowland's break linking with Pierre Thompson for centre Luke Peters to celebrate his return to the side by crossing.
Skipper Bullett, such a consistent force for Es in the second row, struck for the first time on 17 minutes, this time Sam Morley converting and finding the target each time thereon.
Finding themselves five points behind, Cinderford were soon back in front as George Boulton took advantage of scrum superiority to go over twice in five minutes, making it 19-12. The switchback nature of the encounter saw Esher's half-back pairing combining superbly, Pierre Thompson's chip creating the opportunity for stand-off Morley to score.
Hone had the final word of the first half, though, his second try ensuring the hosts were 28-19 in front at the break even though they had already lost Tonks.
It was captain Bullett who set the tone for the second half, charging down a kick just three minutes after the resumption, to leave the gap two points.
It widened again when Mike Austin raced through and then converted to create a nine-point gap with 30 minutes remaining.
The tide was to turn irrevocably, Harvey Scott going over for Esher's fifth try on 53 and Rowland
following his hat-trick a week earlier against Sale by striking on the hour before prop Matt Lowe completed a heartening performance with the final score.
Saturday's clash with Cambridge is followed by hosting Chinnor at Molesey Road on Friday March 10, starting at 7.45pm.
Games to come (home in bold) – Sat March 4: Cambridge; Fri 10: Chinnor; Sat 25: Hull; Sat April 1: Bishop's Stortford; Sat 15: Darlington MP; Sat 22: Rams.
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