By Steph Franklin
Despite hoping to get back to winning ways after last week's defeat in Leicester, Esher had to settle for a draw after Barnes' impressive comeback in the second half at a rain-soaked Molesey Road.
Although Barnes dominated possession in the first ten minutes, they were unable to make it on to the scoreboard in the first half. A burst of attacking play from the Esher backs in the fifteenth minute gave the EEEs their first scoring opportunity, to no avail. The resulting 5-metre lineout proved another challenge for the home side, as a combination of a fumbled ball and the greasy conditions almost handed possession back to the visitors. Theo Skoumbourdis, however, was perfectly placed to avert disaster with some expert handling, and he trotted over the line for Esher's first of the afternoon, duly converted by Sam Morley.
Buoyed by their first try, Esher went on the attack again almost straight away, securing a turnover following a Barnes scrum, but the rainy conditions caused the EEEs to knock the ball on again only moments later, a problem which was to plague both sides throughout the game. Barnes failed to capitalise on their next opportunity to score, missing a penalty kick in the 33rd minute.
Esher's next points on the board came in the twenty-second minute thanks to a scrum penalty advantage and another knock-on, with Morley's kick securing another three points for the home side. One final try for the men in black and amber came on the stroke of half time after a period of fierce attacking play, eventually sending Charlie Crawley over. Another successful conversion from Sam Morley brought the first half to a close.
The second half saw a role reversal for the two sides, with Esher failing to score again despite a promising-looking break from Dan Rowland in the 44th minute. After spending a solid five minutes camped out on the Esher line, it was lock Ryan Seabright who eventually crashed over for Barnes' first score of the afternoon. Despite the tricky angle, scrum half Josh Davies had no trouble with the conversion, or with the penalty kick which he slotted effortlessly a few minutes later.
A high tackle sent Esher's Fin McBrearty to the sin bin in the final quarter as Barnes mounted another fierce attack on the Esher line. Winger Frank Nickson made the most of the man advantage, scoring the visitors' second and final try in the 78th minute, piling the pressure on to Davies to once again add the extras and bring the scores level, to a rapturous reception from Barnes' supporters in the stands. Esher's last-minute attacking campaign to prevent the tie came to nothing, however, as the visitors wrestled the ball into touch