Winterbottom looking forward to Titans test

 By MARK BENGOECHEA

ESHER face the daunting trip to title favourites Taunton Titans on Saturday hoping to shrug off their heaviest defeat of the campaign at Henley last weekend.

The Eees went down 46-20 to the Hawks, which gave the Thames Valley club the league double over Peter Winterbottom's side following their equally emphatic 34-13 victory at Molesey Road.

It was a chastening afternoon at Henley as the home side punished Esher errors to wrap up the try bonus point before half-time with consolation scores coming from Sam Druce, replacement Jack Walsh and Joe Beckett.

The trip to Henley was the first part of a daunting trilogy of matches for Esher against the three main promotion contenders with the visit to Taunton coming before the arrival of Tonbridge at Molesey Road next week.

But Director of Rugby Winterbottom has challenged his side to eradicate the mistakes at Taunton and give themselves a chance of causing an upset. He said: "It's another massive challenge for us. We've got to go down there with the right attitude. We've talked about how we're going to play and

if we can get our tactics right and our commitment right, I think we can compete and come away with a result.

"The players are well aware that you've got to be on your mettle and anything sub-standard will not do, so we've got to get things right tactically mentally and physically. If we do that, we'll give ourselves a chance."

Winterbottom was disappointed by the heavy defeat at Henley but said it was not a defensive horror show despite the scoreline. He said: "It wasn't necessarily that our defence was poor, it was more that our attack wasn't accurate enough. We possibly over-played ourselves and coughed up ball and they capitalised.

"We made some poor errors of judgement and consequently paid the price. When you lose like that you think the defence was awful; yes, it could have been better, but we gave them simple points early on.

"Obviously it was disappointing, but we've got to be positive. One defeat like that doesn't make you a bad side overnight. Henley have been the only side who have beaten us well this season."

The fixture at Taunton had to be postponed in February and Esher face a Titans outfit on the crest of a wave with six successive victories, knowing victory over the Eees will send them back to the top of National Two South with five matches remaining.

Esher make seven changes from the side beaten at Henley with five up front. George Young starts at loosehead with Matt Lowes switching to tighthead. Fraser Wem comes into the second row alongside Hugh Sloan while there is a new back row of Cam Gentles, Ben Davies and Lorcan Dow.

The other changes are at half-back with Walsh returning at scrum-half while James Chaumeton slots in at fly-half. There is also a first appearance on the bench for loosehead Charlie Crawley.

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