Esher coach Craig Chalmers hailed the performance of Spencer Sutherland after his side narrowly edged Henley in a high-scoring SSE National One game.

Henley started like an express train and Chalmers’ men were particularly reliant on the tenacious showing from Sutherland in the tackle area as he almost single-handily kept Esher in the game as the home side rocked defensively.

The introduction of Robbie Shaw at the break seemed to change the game in Esher’s favour as Chalmers’ side scored three tries after the break to take the points.

“The first ten minutes of the game were pretty good – we tackled low and we were putting them on the deck,” said Chalmers. “We knew they would play a wide expansive game.

“I think they thought they were fitter than us but we didn’t control the ball, apart from short periods like when we scored our first try.

“We started going too high in the contact and started to let them play. We gave them too much space to play and we didn’t have enough wind in the defence.

“Spencer Sutherland’s tackling was fantastic. His work rate is unbelievable. He’s not a big guy but he’s very physical and punches well above his weight as far as defence is concerned.”

The Hawks ran in tries from Alan Awcock and Rob Stapley, both converted by Danny Wells, who also kicked three first half penalties.

In reply, Luke Daniels kicked two first-half penalties and converted a try scored by Cameron Gentiles but it was the introduction of Robbie Shaw at No.9 that changed the game in favour of Esher.

The change prompted scores from Shaw, Neil Sweeney and Stewart Maguire – all converted by Daniels, who also kicked two further penalties.

Henley’s Xavier Andre scored a second-half score for the visitors, but it was too little too late.

“Second half we talked about doing the basics better,” added Chalmers.

“We changed a couple of things. We brought Robbie (Shaw) on to try and up the tempo a little bit and bring our guys into the game more.

“We looked lively second half. We took our chances. We controlled the ball much better. We got on the front foot and I think we deserved the result in the end.”

“Henley is not a bad side. They’ll give some other teams a few frights. They keep the ball in hand but they’re quite big as well and can compete up front.

“I thought our lineouts were good - we asked them some serious questions. There are some little variations that we need to keep adding in week in week out but it was a nice win.”

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