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MATCH REPORT: Esher 22-56 Cambridge

Es going Chin first into key survival battle 

Esher 22 Cambridge 56 

National League 1 Saturday March 4

Written by Richard Spiller

Esher head into Friday night's crucial clash with Chinnor knowing that their chances of survival hang on the next four matches.

They conceded eight tries to title-chasing Cambridge in a heavy defeat at Molesey Road, leaving them just two points above the drop zone, then found that relegation rivals Chinnor had overtaken them through a narrow victory over Cinderford.

Es battled hard throughout the match, trailing only narrowly at half time, but a blitz of three tries early in the second half pushed the match conclusively in Cambridge's direction and the hosts' hopes of claiming a bonus point were to be dashed as they could only cross the line three times.

Wing Nana Asiedu showed why he is the leading try scorer in National Division One, a hat-trick stretching his tally to 24 for the season and putting him five ahead of team-mate Ben Brownlie, who struck once. The pair they have been a major factor in Cambridge's success this season, albeit still trailing leaders Rams by seven points.

Asiedu showed the Molesey Road crowd just why he has been so successful, storming over near the left corner flag after nine minutes and Steff James converting as he would do on each occasion.

Esher suffered a considerable blow when their own high scoring wing, Dan Rowland, was forced off by injury soon after and Sam Morley missed a relatively straightforward penalty on 17 minutes, a rare blemish for the fly-half who is still the overall top points scorer in the competition.

The hosts hit back though on 19 when No 8 Harvey Scott forced his way over, Morley converting and then putting his side ahead through a successful penalty, some excellent running rugby from the Surrey side not being translated into points.

Cambridge's solidity in defence was rewarded when Asiedu crashed over five minutes before the break, James ensuring a gap of four points at the break.

They went up a gear after the resumption, demonstrating why they have won 17 out of 21 outings so far, James beginning the deluge on 45 when he pounced on a dropped pass to race the length of the pitch. No 8 Jake McCloud and replacement Brownlie soon following suit before Asiedu completed his treble just before the hour in establishing a lead of 32 points.

Esher still had the target of pinching a bonus point, just as they had against another high-flying side in Sale two weeks earlier, Rowland's replacement Fergus Donnelly registering their second on 61.

Flanker George Bretag-Norris and Matthew Williams tries restored the visitors' flow but Es could take some satisfaction from having the final word, the industrious Morley seeing a well-worked miss-move pulling the Cambridge defence out of position for Joe Parkes to mark his debut with a try on the left.

With Chinnor now three points ahead of them, Es go into Friday's match – which kicks off at 7.45pm – three points behind. They will then have 15 days to prepare for the trip to bottom side Hull, 20 points adrift in the basement, followed by another key moment when fellow strugglers Bishop's Stortford visit on Saturday April 1.

Games to come (home in bold) – Fri March 10: Chinnor; Sat 25: Hull; Sat April 1: Bishop's Stortford; Sat 15: Darlington MP; Sat 22: Rams. 

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