Hinckley 15 Esher 13
National Division Two South
Saturday February 17

TWO defeats inside eight days mean Esher know victory is essential when they host leaders Redruth on Saturday.

Top of the table two weeks ago, Es still have a match in hand, their run of 12 successive victories now disappearing in the rear-view mirror after Henley’s victory at Molesey Road was followed by this setback in Leicestershire.

Fly-half Sam Morley scored all Esher’s points, his converted try augmented by two penalties although he missed a third which would have snatched a win for the visitors, who had been triumphant by a single point when the teams met in October.

Rain and a stodgy pitch colluded to ensure that running rugby was always going to be difficult and it took 19 minutes for a breakthrough to come, Morley kicking his first penalty.

Joe Wilson replied in kind three minutes later and, on 26, a five metre lineout on the left was pushed over for Dale Bowyer to claim the try, Wilson providing the extras for 10-3.

And seconds from half time, Hinckley seized on another opportunity when a maul enabled Matthew Fearn to claim their second try, this time Wilson’s conversion hitting a post but his side going in 15-3.

Esher pushed hard in the opening stages of the second half only to be frustrated by the hosts on 48 minutes, Morley once again showing the flair which has made him such a key attacking force for the Elmbridge side when he found space and produced a beautiful sidestep to evade a challenge before going over. His conversion made it 15-10, a penalty with 25 minutes remaining narrowing the gap to just three points.

Sensing they could go on to force victory, Esher pushed hard and might have had their reward only for Morley’s usual accuracy to desert him.

The crux of their campaign now awaits them, Redruth’s visit at the weekend being followed by a trip to second-placed Clifton, who are three points in front of Peter Winterbottom’s men, on March 5.

Esher’s front row has been strengthened for the rest of the campaign by the return of prop Cameron Zeiss on loan from National Division One side Rams.

The 31-year-old made his Es debut in 2011, becoming a regular the following season and accumulating 150 appearances before departing in 2019. Zeiss featured in the squad at Hinckley.

Fixtures – February 26: Redruth (H); March 5: Clifton (A); 12: Westcliff (H); 19: Worthing (A); 26: Albanian (A); April 2: Guernsey (A); 9: Bury St Edmunds (H); 16: Canterbury (A); 23: Worthing (H); 30: Rochford (A).