Westcliff 7 Esher 80
Saturday November 13
Esher's try riot puts them among pace-setters
A dozen tries, led by Tom James's hat-trick, put Esher level on points at the top of the table as they took advantage of Westcliff's woes.
The Essex side have lost all 10 matches this season and this pounding only compounded their nightmare in the basement.
For Esher it was a matter of avoiding complacency and amassing points but Westcliff deserved much credit for never giving up despite the dispiriting campaign they are suffering.
They conceded two tries within the first five minutes and were 47-0 down by half time, their opponents understandably easing off a little and taking off fly-half Sam Morley, preserving him for the two tough matches at Molesey Road to come. Fourth-placed Old Albanians visit on Saturday and Guernsey (fifth) follow seven days later.
Scrum-half Pierre Thompson set the tone at Westcliff by easing over after two minutes after being set up by full-back Jack Lavin, James following suit soon after and both conversions nailed by Morley despite the breezy conditions, Westcliff's newish ground on the edge of Southend Airport offering little respite from the wind for players and spectators alike.
The hosts pushed hard for a reply, lingering on the Esher line for several minutes but once play returned to the other end hooker Andy Hamilton claimed his side's third try on 13 minutes amid a sea of bodies – this time the extras were missed – and wing James was on the scoreboard again eight minutes later, converted for 26-0.
The flair of their backs has too often been nullified by a lightweight pack but Tarek Haffar is looking increasingly potent, the former London Irish and England U18 prop dashing over on 24 minutes, wing Dan Rowland and centre Chris Davies adding to the Westcliff misery before half time and Morley proving on target each time to make it 47-0 by the interval. Against a side which had conceded 89 and 106 points respectively in their previous two matches, another avalanche seemed possible.
But the interval clearly revived Westcliff, who emerged to apply pressure for several minutes and be rewarded when Callum Lynch went over, converted by Greg Bannister, and it would have been no injustice had they gone over again, lacking the pace to exploit the gaps they had created.
James completed his hat-trick on 47 minutes by taking advantage of more classy work from Lavin, another 10 minutes passing until Davies went over for a second time and No 8 Charlie Gossington – captain for the day in the absence of Adam Bullett, who was getting married – flying through to the line. In the final moments Harvey Scott and then Luke Peters filled their boots, Lavin taking over kicking duties to pot four conversions.
Written by Richard Spiller