Bury St Edmunds 36 Esher 40
National Division Two South
Saturday December 4
Esher's early blitz sets up festive finish to year
A commanding first-half display ensured Esher made it six wins in a row on their long voyage to Suffolk.
They overcame any rust caused by Guernsey's failure to make it off the Channel Islands a week earlier – trapped by Storm Arwen – to take a 20-point lead by the interval at Southgate Green.
Not that the visitors made a propitious start, Ben Penfold's converted try sending Bury St Edmunds 7-0 up after only two minutes.
Esher were soon showing the confident form which leaves them level on points at the top of the table, forcing a series of penalties. When one was kicked to the corner, hooker Andy Hamilton forced his way over the line on six minutes, although the extras were missed.
Reed extended Bury's advantage through a penalty but the visitors were in firm control until half time, full-back Jack Lavin and fly-half Sam Morley both going over to complement Hamilton's second effort which sprang from a lineout.
But the Elmbridge side's ninth success in 12 outings this season was not going to come without a fight, their hosts starting the second half strongly and taking advantage of a yellow card, Chris Bolton going over and converted by Reed who had by far the better day of the kickers.
Bolton might have had another only to be held up near the line, Shaquille Meyers taking advantage for another converted effort.
Esher reasserted their superiority through tries by Ruaraidh Smith and Myles Rawstron-Rudd so that with eight minutes remaining the match was effectively won. Bury's tenacity shone through, though, ensuring they gained some reward from the match as Will Affleck and then the excellent Reed scored, the latter taking his tally to four conversions.
Peter Winterbottom's men host Canterbury on Saturday before their final match of 2021, a tough trip to Worthing on December 18, aiming to make it a successful finish to a year which has tested the club's durability but augurs well for the future.
By Richard Spiller