By MARK BENGOECHEA
PETER WINTERBOTTOM praised the attitude and work ethic of his players after Esher roared to their second straight bonus-point victory to go joint top of National League Division Two South.
The Eees played some scintillating rugby as they won 45-19 at Dings Crusaders on Saturday to build on the promise of their opening-day home triumph over Rochford Hundred the previous week.
Tries from Sam Bullock, Luke Peters, Tom James, Joseph Vayner and Jack Lavin plus a penalty try means Esher have notched up six tries in both of their opening two league encounters.
Director of Rugby Winterbottom was delighted with the victory but says the team must not get carried away as there will be far sterner challenges to come in the months ahead.
But he was especially delighted with the opening 40 minutes as Esher played some free-flowing rugby to build a 30-7 lead by half-time against Dings to effectively put the game beyond the reach of the Bristol side.
Winterbottom said: "It's been a very good start and I felt we improved on the previous week. Some of the stuff we played in the first half especially was very good. We moved the ball well, we offloaded well and were pretty good for our 30-7 half-time lead.
"It was a convincing 40 minutes and very encouraging. We then hit a bit of a sticky patch in the second half and didn't quite get our fluency together, although by then we had lost Sam Morley to injury. We certainly haven't played at our best yet but then we've only played two games.
"There were some very good performances put in by a number of players and it's encouraging that we have a bit of depth in the squad, so when we do pick up injuries, we'll be able to replace them with quality players."
Winterbottom will not be drawn on Esher's promotion prospects and maintains their focus will purely be on performance.
He said: "We've got to be careful because they are not the two strongest sides in the league we have played. There are some very difficult matches to come that will test us a lot more but it's so far, so good certainly.
"Some of our defensive work was not up to scratch at times against Dings so there is always plenty to work on. But there are massive positives to take away from the games. You don't want to be too negative after a 45-point win away from our home.
"Our attitude was good, our application especially good away from home. I'm quite conscious that we will play some good rugby at home but we've got to do it away, that's the key.
"I know it's a cliché, but I don't want to look further than the next one or two games. We've got a great team spirit, the lads enjoy each other's company, everybody is very positive and we'll just try to play as good rugby as we can and hopefully we'll be in the mix come the end of the season."
Esher welcome Barnstaple at Molesey Road on Saturday and Winterbottom hopes his players can retain their focus for the next big challenge.
He added: "At the moment it's really all about how we're playing, to improve week in week out and everything else will take care of itself. We have just got to make sure we are in the right shape mentally and physically to overcome those challenges. It would be foolish to look too far ahead.
"We'll be looking to improve in all areas and working on skill levels so that we don't make unforced errors. The breakdown is always an area of concern and if we can improve our breakdown work it makes the game so much easier. So, there are loads of area to work on."