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Poor first half performance leaves Club short
Esher 28 v Blackheath 20
A far tighter final outcome than was threatened at one stage.
In fact, the closing stages saw Blackheath pressing for a losing bonus point, and at least the Club left Molesey Road with the consolation of denying Esher the fourth try dividend that looked a mere formality when the Surrey side raced into a 25-6 lead at the half-way mark.
Ultimately, however, Blackheath paid the price for a poor first period which allowed Esher to take charge.
‘We didn’t defend well, kicked badly out of hand and failed to execute what we practised on the training field,’ said Club Director of Rugby Simon Legg to BBC Radio Kent afterwards.
‘Consequently we conceded two soft tries, and although we played better in the second half, it left too much of a mountain to climb.’
The visitors began positively enough, with David Marshall spurning the chance of an early shot at goal in favour of a line-out, but ten minutes of early pressure ended with a penalty for crossing and Blackheath’s best attacking opportunity of the opening period was gone.
In contrast, at the other end, Luke Daniels made the most of his side’s early chances, slotting his first penalty from 40 metres, and in the 13th minute, from a line-out on half-way, the full-back was awarded far too much space to break down the right flank for the game’s opening try.
A further Daniels penalty was sandwiched by two fine efforts from Marshall, reducing the deficit to 11-6, but as the half drew to a close Esher struck decisively to take the game out of range.
As EEEs scrum dominance gave them a platform, the hosts pressed the visitors goal-line, creating space out wide first for right-wing Andrew Wright, and then lock Cameron Gentles, to go over in the corner. Daniels added both conversions, notching up his 100th point of the season in the process, putting Esher firmly on top with the threat of more to come after the break.
But it never materialised. Instead Blackheath, opting again for a line-out from a kickable penalty, responded by driving Tom Stradwick across for a converted score on 44 minutes, and although Daniels quickly answered with his third penalty, it was to be Esher’s only points of the second half, despite the hosts’ territorial dominance.
Blackheath even survived the sin-binning of Dave Allen as the visitors’ defence tightened and Esher turned over possession, and when Marshall broke from behind his own goal-line in the 70th minute, the fly-half triggered a move which culminated in Markus Burcham weaving around the Esher defence for the Club’s second try.
It earned Blackheath respectability, but left them just short of leaving Surrey with any reward for their efforts.
Blackheath return to Rectory Field next Saturday when they take on Rosslyn Park. Kick-off is at 3.00 pm.
Tries: Daniels, Wright, Gentles
Conv: Daniels 2
Pens: Daniels 3
Tries: Stradwick, Burcham
Conv: Marshall 2
Pens: Marshall 2
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