By MARK BENGOECHEA
PETER WINTERBOTTOM has called for his Esher side to cure their awayday blues as they start the New Year hoping to complete a league double at Dings Crusaders on Saturday.
The Eees have lost five of their eight games on their travels and that poor record leaves them in eighth place in National League Division Two, although they have a game in hand on most of the sides above them.
But those defeats have cost Esher any chance of a quick return to National One this season as they are now a distant 21 point behind leaders Tonbridge Juddians.
However, Director of Rugby Winterbottom wants Esher to bring a new mindset on their travels and start games with a more positive approach. He said: "We've had a very poor away record this year and we've got to put it right. We've lost five games away from home and I think in those five games conceded something like 93 points.
"If you look at those five defeats away from home, in all those games we were in with a shout, but we blew it and it's put us where we are in the league.
"So, I'm hoping the boys have taken that on board and that they know they are going to have to put in the graft and effort and then we'll get the rewards.
"We've got to be positive about the way we play and go out there and be positive to win the game. We've probably started badly in all of those games and we can't afford to.
"But the mood amongst the players is pretty positive. We had a good meeting this week about what we want to achieve in the second half of the season, and they know now that you're going to get nothing for free in this league, you've got to fight for everything."
Esher go in search of their first league double of the campaign after their emphatic 54-19 victory over Dings in September in which Cam Wilkins scored a hat-trick as the Eees ran in eight tries.
However, Winterbottom has warned his players that the Bristol side, who have won six of their 16 games and are in 10th place, have shown a huge improvement since then and also have the advantage of being used to their 4G pitch.
Esher have not played for three weeks after the postponement of the home game with Barnes on December 21, but Winterbottom says they will be ready for the challenge.
He said: "We've had a good rest and hopefully we'll be firing on all cylinders. Dings have had quite a few close results go against them and I think they have improved massively since we played them in September. I think it'll be a tough game and we will have to play well to win.
"Watching their home games on the 4G pitch, they move the ball well and it will be interesting to see how we adapt to the 4G pitch because we've not played on one before.
"It'll be a fairly fast pitch, but the principles are still the same; we've got to make sure we're disciplined, not be over-exuberant about the way you play and keep the ball when you've got it."
Esher make three changes from the side picked to face Barnes. Dan Lamb is restored to the front row in place of Tom Lloyd, Calum Monks returns at full-back while James Booth is back on the wing.