Forwards coach Ricky Nebbett admits places are up for grabs in the Esher team after watching his below-par side suffered defeat at the hands of Old Albanians, writes Pippa Field.

With just four SSE National League One defeats all season, Esher travelled to Hertfordshire in confident mood on Saturday, but, despite scoring the first points through Luke Daniels’ penalty, found themselves entering the break 14-3 down.

Things didn’t get any better in the second 40 either as a further two converted tries extended the hosts’ lead with Cameron Gentiles’ late try a mere consolation in the eventual 31-8 loss.

And although praising the victors, Nebbett was in no mood to make excuses for his own side’s performances.

“You have to give credit to Old Albanians, they started the game really well, the first ten minutes they really came at us,” said Nebbett.

“I expected a reaction but I did not get one, after half-time there was a little bit of one but not enough.

“I looked at their team, they had a few boys from the Saracens set up and the England U21s so I knew they were taking this game pretty seriously. 

“But there was a lack of desire from us which was the most frustrating thing for me. The whole attitude was nowhere near where it should be.

“Places are up for grabs, I don’t think you can substitute want and desire to play for the club.

"The level of commitment at times was not acceptable.

“I will make changes, possibly those that come in may not have that same level of experience or even ability, but if that desire is there, you’re half way there.”

Despite being under pressure early on, Daniels’ penalty on 16 minutes nudged Esher in front before Old Albanians finally got the rewards their play deserved, with two late first-half tries converted by Lawrence Rayner.

Rayner would again be on target after the break, slotting a penalty before converting two further tries as his side came away with the winning bonus point.

For Esher, it was a case of what could have been with second-placed Rosslyn Park also losing, as Nebbett’s side, currently third, missed the chance to close the gap on the leaders.

“With Rosslyn Park losing, we had a chance to make up ground on second place and Doncaster Knights out front but we missed the opportunity,” he added.

“It was a tough weekend all in all. We have just got to pick ourselves up and make sure we are ready to go on Saturday.

“We have got to see some sort of reaction, from the first team all the way to the second team. It’s a massive opportunity for the guys these next few weeks, both individually and as a team.”

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