By MARK BENGOECHEA
PETER WINTERBOTTOM warns Esher must find their cutting edge in attack in Saturday's derby at Barnes if they are to get their promotion campaign up and running. The Eees suffered a heart-breaking 10-8 defeat in their National League Division Two South opener at Redruth last weekend when the hosts snatched victory with the last play of the game.
Director of Rugby Winterbottom was pleased with Esher's defence but admitted the attack misfired badly and is demanding a vast improvement at Barnes.
He said: "We didn't play well as a team but in the second half we had controlled things pretty much, had never really felt threatened, apart from right at the end. But we just didn't get our patterns of play going or any fluidity, which meant we didn't manage to get going forward and have any opportunities wide out. It was a difficult place to go but we certainly didn't play to our potential. Yes, we probably could have come away with a win which would have got us out of jail a little bit, but we didn't.
Now it's about improving the speed of the ball, the tempo of the game and posing problems for the opposition, which we didn't manage to do against Redruth. We made it too easy for them defensively.
So, we've got to be looking at changing the point of attack and posing problems. I think defensively at Redruth we were pretty sound most of the time. There were a couple of missed tackles but generally I think our defence is improving."
Winterbottom has made four changes for the short trip to Barnes with Jack Walsh and Tristan Roberts forming a new half-back combination while out wide Joe Beckett replaces Martin Freeman on the wing. Up front, there is only one change as Cameron Wilkins comes in at blindside with Ben Davies dropping to the bench.
Winterbottom expects a tough clash at Barnes, who let slip a 28-17 half-time lead at Clifton to go down 34-31 with the home side also snatching victory with the last play in a game which finished with uncontested scrums.
Winterbottom said: "I've seen their game against Clifton and they're a tidy side. They played well in the first half, then dropped off and let Clifton back in. They've got some solid forwards and nippy half-backs and are going to be a difficult side to break down. But it's an opportunity to get back on track, which we must do fairly sharpish."