Match Report: Club 22-Esher 24

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Esher take their chances to punish Blackheath.

A boisterous end of season crowd saw a lacklustre Blackheath succumb to a courageous display by the doomed Esher. The visitors achieved part of the miracle they needed to avoid the almost inevitable relegation their season’s performances had warranted. The miracle did not occur as others involved in the relegation battle did not play ball. So Esher go down but with their heads held high.

Playing with a strong wind in their favour the visitors dominated territory and possession for most of the first half. However it was the home side, that were first on the scoreboard, with  a speculative kick, which was regathered and two passes put Alex Pickersgill over in the corner, 5-0.

The series of stolen line outs cost the Club a chance to gain field position and enabled Esher to remain on the attack. Despite plenty of possession it was not until the 27th minute that the home defence was breached after a yellow card for Tom Stradwick helped Esher to a score from no 8 Rob Dudley, after concerted driving play. Owen Waters added the 2 points. 5-7.  Having found the try line Esher resumed their positive approach and five minutes later, assisted by several missed or ineffective tackles, Jack Walsh, erstwhile Blackheath legend, squeezed in at the corner to take Esher into a 5-12 lead.

From the ensuing kick-off, Esher manoeuvred for position out of their 22 and an eventual kick through was initially covered by full back Leo Fieldling, however a wicked bounce and 2 quick passes, put Joe Beckett clear to run in from halfway and an easy conversion by Waters followed. 5-19

Blackheath had showed some resistance and in the last play of the half, engineered an attacking lineout and looked to make amends with a catch and drive to improve the deficit. However, once again a stolen lineout put paid  to that ambition and left the visitors with a healthy half time lead.

The second half started brightly for Club with a sharp attack from kick off only thwarted by a deliberate knock on by Walsh, resulting in a yellow card after good approach work by the Blackheath backs. The penalty, duly kicked to the corner, saw the lineout drive go close but was unsuccessful, save for a penalty award.  A quick tap and score was disallowed as an earlier call had opted for a scrum. A sustained attack right and back left, saw Freddy Owen go under the post and the 2 points from Fielding brought Blackheath to 12-19. Owen was at it again on 64 minutes going over for an unconverted try after a period of scrambling play by both sides, which saw the Club gradually closing on the hardworking Esher. 17-19.

The Club were their own worst enemies, when from kick off a clearing kick was charged down. From the scrum, Esher constructed an attack which saw Beckett go in for his second try in the corner, which was not improved.17-24. It came at a cost as well, with Harry Bate receiving yellow for a desperate no arm tackle trying to prevent the score.

Replacement Geoff Griffiths, formally of Esher, playing his last game for the Club, scored a sensational and emotional try on 75 minutes which brought the home crowd to their feet as they sensed a late and unlikely victory. 22-24.

Indeed it nearly came to be as the ever threatening Fielding intercepted and ran 60 yards before being hauled down 20 metres short. The defence conceded a penalty in their attempt to slow down the ball and naturally a kick to the corner followed. However things did not go to script and, although the ball was won, in the scrambling drive for the line Esher secured a turnover and that was game set and match.

Des Diamond

Tim Brindle

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