Esher Match Report
By Adrian Fraser
Cambridge 22 - 32 Esher
Cambridge started brightly, running good attacking lines until they forced Esher to come offside and although they could not convert the advantage Ben Penfold was able to open a 3-0 lead. However, on almost the next attack a missed tackle allowed Esher in at the corner for a 3-5 lead.
Ten minutes later, Esher stretched the lead to 3-12 with another try, this time converted. A penalty made it 3-15. Cambridge were then able to keep the ball and after a number of phases in their 22, a gap open up for Matt Hema to dive over. Ben Penfold added the extras to make if 10-15. Coming towards the end of the half, Cambridge had another attack and were moving well when the Esher loose head took out Keifer Laxton with a forearm to the head. The referee stopped play for medical attention and after consulting with both touch judges showed a red card. The final Cambridge move broke down with a knock on, so the half time score remained 10-15. Worse Matt Hema limped off and to be replaced by Oli Petrides.
You would have thought playing against 14, Cambridge would run riot in the second half, but Esher dug deep. They missed a penalty and then went over in the corner for a try. Cambridge countered with a try by Rob Conquest, converted once again by Ben Penfold - whose kicking is looked quite secure all match.
Having cut the deficit to three points and a man up, the crowd - and perhaps the players - felt momentum might be with the Blood and Sand. However, Matt Meek saw yellow for a poor tackle and Esher took the penalty quickly catching Cambridge cold to score another try. Another Cambridge knock on led to a Esher scrum and Josh Peters had to go off to let Shane back on to cover the front row. This led to a scrum penalty and Esher scored again to stretch the lead to 17-32.
With Matt and Josh back on Cambridge attacked again. Oli Petrides was another injury worry, going off with a shoulder injury. Eventually Joe Green scored a late try for Cambridge to get us within 10. Ben rushed the kick to ensure play restarted and this one missed. With time running out, Cambridge attacked again from their own 22 - but another knock on ended the game. A final score of 22-32 meant we got no points and Esher the full five.
Esher therefore move above us in the table. Rosslyn Park lost to Hull Ionians and Old Albanians won at Bishop Stortford, so the relegation battle is any two from seven. After the relative safety two weeks ago, once again Cambridge find themselves in the dog fight and reliant on results to go the right way for us to stay up.
On the other pitch, the 2nd XV had a much better afternoon. A great display by he pack was the cornerstone of a 47-10 victory. The 3rd XV also won 60-17.
The 1st and 2nd XVs head to Bishop Stortford next week. A much better performance will be required if the Blood and Sand are to get points at Silverleys . We have shown earlier in the season we can play better than this. Somehow the players need to dig deep and get back to those levels.
Cambridge 22 - 32 Esher
Tries: Hema, Conquest, Joe Green
Conversions: Penfold (2)
Report: Marcus Street