Esher defence will be key in survival fight

First published in Esher Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by

Esher boss Mike Schmid believes his side's defence will decide the outcome of Saturday’s crunch visit of fellow strugglers London Scottish.

Both sides are set to be involved in the Championship relegation play-offs in March and need wins – which are worth an extra point each in the end of season competition – to give themselves the chance of survival.

Esher, who lost 41-24 at Doncaster Knights last week, avoided the drop via the same route last season but have just one win this term.

The Scottish exiles, who signed three new players last week to beef up their squad, have five already.

And Schmid admitted it was vital they do not add to their tally this weekend.

“It is a big game and a win will mean one extra point to take into the play-offs, which could be absolutely crucial,” he said.

“It is the sort of occasion every player looks forward to and our guys know the importance of this one.

“Scottish have threats all round the park and their forwards are aggressive.

“We have played some excellent attacking rugby this year, but our defence has to make sure we stay in games because we haven't had a problem scoring points.”

Ex-Esher winger Dougie Flockhart was the executioner in chief as his hat-trick of tries – in a 26-point haul – condemned his former club to defeat, although Phil Mackenzie, Geoff Griffiths and Shawn Renwick all crossed for the visitors on Saturday.

Schmid expects Ian Kench and Arran Cruickshanks to return to action this week although that will be tempered by the continued absence of Harlequins’ dual-registered players Will Collier, Charlie Walker and Ross Chisholm.

But Schmid is not worried.

“It is nice to have the Quins boys. They enhcance our team, but they don’t define it,” he added.

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