By Sacha Clayton
Esher coach Craig Chalmers hailed his side’s battling qualities after they survived a series of needless yellow cards to come out on top 28-22 in a hard-fought SSE National One local derby at Richmond.
The boot of Luke Daniels and a late score from Spencer Sutherland ensured Esher successfully navigated spells that saw Stewart Maguire, Michael Macfarlane and Dave Millard on the sidelines after receiving yellow cards.
“There was some good stuff; it was pleasing aspects of our game that we worked on last week came off but it's the first game and it's all about getting that first win,” said Chalmers.
“Away from home at Richmond, they're a good side, a well-drilled side, so that's not a bad result to get us going.
“We want to look at the performance and build on it but at the end of the day the win’s massive, it gives us something to work with.
“[Going down to 13 men] galvanised us a little bit. Sometimes you play against 13 men, 14 men, and it’s a bit harder, but we had enough control of the ball.”
Richmond’s Louis Grimoldby did not enjoy the most productive early afternoons with the boot as he missed two kicks at goal inside the first 22 minutes, while Daniels nailed his first two efforts at goal for Esher.
Steve Hill’s Richmond was the first side to score a try – Matthew Keville barging over and Grimboldy adding the extras.
Esher indiscipline then came to the fore as they lost two players to yellow cards before the break – Stewart Maguire and Michael Macfarlane the guilty men.
Despite the numerical disadvantage Jay Udo-Udoma scored against the run of play for Esher to ensure they led 13-7 at the break.
After the break Richmond’s William Warden and Esher’s Thomas Whelan exchanged scores – Daniels converting the visitors try to put them eight points clear.
He then extended Esher’s lead further with a penalty but further ill-discipline saw the visitors reduced to 14 men as Dave Millard saw yellow.
Richmond got back into the game as James Doherty and Rob Alexander both scored, before Spencer Sutherland sealed the points for Esher late on after successfully chasing down a Daniels long punt.
Over: Jay Odu-Udoma scores for Esher SP79128
Richmond director of rugby Steve Hill said: “It’s frustrating, because we played some really good rugby at times but our lack of precision kept them in the game.
“I think the team that made the least mistakes won today. I applaud our ambition, we’re always going to try and play rugby at home.
“It might be hard with it being the first game of the season, but that’s a game we could have won. Chances went begging whether it was missed tries or kicks which didn’t go over, so it’s frustrating.
“I told the guys I can’t fault their effort as we were in it right until the end, but it is frustrating we couldn’t turn that good work into a result.”
Coming through: Richmond's Rob Alexander makes some ground
High climber: Esher's Cameron Gentiles catches a line-out ball above Richmond's Charles Lenygon
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