Leicester Lions 17 Esher 20
National Division 2 South
Saturday January 18, 2020
Peter Winterbottom's call for Esher to show their steeliness at the back was answered in just the right manner as they held on for a first victory of 2020.
Defeats at the hands of Dings Crusaders and Bury St Edmunds had made a sobering start to the new year for the Elmbridge side, prompting former England international Winterbottom – who took over as director of rugby at Molesey Road last summer – to demand an end to the habit of giving away the cheap points which had proved so costly.
Esher went ahead on five minutes at Westleigh Park when a Lions infringement was punished by fly-half James Chaumeton kicking the resulting penalty. A well-balanced contest saw Lions lose Drew Rudkin to the sinbin for a technical offence on 31 minutes. Yet they were ahead by the interval, Leicester driving hard upfield for wing Devon Constant to touch down, Ben Young's conversion putting his side 7-3 in front.
Refreshed by the interval, Esher responded immediately when they forced a knock-on, the resulting scrum enabling centre Dan Rowland to fly through the gap, Chaumeton's extras recapturing the lead. They displayed their own power up front on 55 minutes, front row Matt Lowes driving over for his side's second try and Chaumeton doing the rest.
Young's penalty on the hour reduced the deficit to seven points and they suffered another blow when hooker Andy Hamilton was despatched to the sinbin for an ill-considered challenge. Chaumeton struck back, though, with another penalty to leave the gap 10 points again.
Lions threw in everything they had, being rewarded with seven minutes left by No 8 Nick Cairns worming his way past the cover to score, Young closing the gap to three points.
Now they put Esher under intense scrutiny, believing they had scored a winning try in the dying stages only for the referee and touch judge to consult and award the visitors a penalty instead.
Sutton & Epsom are the visitors to Molesey Road on Saturday, aiming to avenge a 38-6 trouncing at Rugby Lane in October