Esher 40 Bournemouth 7
National Division 2 South
Saturday February 8 2020
Dan Rowland led Esher's six-try charge to deepen Bournemouth's woes at the bottom of the table.
As so often, the Elmbridge side saved their best for the second half but there had rarely seemed much doubt they would win from the moment they went in front in the fifth minute, slick handling down the left flank sending centre Sam Druce over and Tristan Roberts converting.
Kicking was complicated by a gusting wind which chilled a healthy crowd enjoying the sunshine at Molesey Road, any illusions the home side possessed of a stroll to victory being dispelled within four minutes. Scrum-half Grant Hancox capitalised on a maul – following a lineout – and cut through the hesitant cover to touch down, also adding the extras.
Bournemouth's own rearguard looked fragile and had no answer to Joe Beckett's speedy intervention in the 14th minute as the ball was speedily moved to Tom James on the right and the wing sped down the touchline, Roberts unable to find the posts from a tricky angle.
Although the Dorset side stopped the leaks for a period, the strain showed increasingly and finally saw concede a penalty in the 34th minute, ensuring Esher could go into the break with an advantage of 11 points.
Tiring Bournemouth legs found the going tough against Esher's speedy back division in the second half, the hosts utilising a penalty on their own five metre line and a speedy foray upfield from James being offloaded for centre Rowland to show a clean pair of heels in sprinting from the halfway line for a try which secured the bonus point. Roberts converted with ease.
It said much for Bournemouth's industry and spirit that they made their opponents work for their points, Harrison Collins celebrating his return from a lengthy injury lay-off by touching down amid a forest of arms and legs from a driving maul following a lineout – an area in which Esher have rarely been at their best this season.
There was time yet for Rowland to cap a fine display by going over on the right for his second try, taking advantage of fine work from Tom Mitchell and flanker Cameron Wilkins.
Esher head to Somerset on Saturday, where leaders Taunton Titans will bid to avenge a 10-8 defeat back in November, which is followed by a busy week at Molesey Road. The Royal Navy visit for their annual match on Wednesday February 19 and 48 hours later comes a league clash against Barnes, which was postponed in December because of bad weather. Both matches start at 7pm.