Esher forwards coach Ricky Nebbett was filled with pride as his side fought valiantly in their defeat to SSE National League One league-leaders Doncaster Knights on Saturday, writes Marios Papaloizou.

Esher started brightly and took the lead through a Thomas Whelan penalty in the eighth minute, but a converted try from Bruno Bravo set Doncaster on their way.

Michael Hills added to Doncaster’s lead on 21 minutes but Joe Brown kept Esher in touch with a try two minutes later.

A Whelan penalty put Esher within one, but ex-Molesey Road favourite Dougie Flockhart responded with a try to give the table-toppers a six point lead at the half-way point.

Two Doncaster penalties after the restart from Paul Roberts and Flockhart were enough to seal the win.

But Nebbet was unperturbed by the 23-14 scoreline and believes his team matched their visitors all the way and could have snatched victory.

“I am disappointed as we thought we could have quite easily won that game,” he said.

“We were playing against the top team and I think we matched them for the most part.

“The odd decision here or there and it could very easily have been a different story on the day.

“I don’t want the lads to think that it wasn’t a good performance or anything because they did well and we are proud of how we played out there.

“I think probably we lacked experience in certain aspects of the game which was the difference.

“So on the whole we are disappointed but at the same time I’m really proud of how we played out there because we were very good.”

Nebbett thinks that defensive lapses were the difference between the two sides but was keen to stress that the team are upbeat about claiming a top-four finish.

With five games to go in the season the forwards coach wants Esher to go out and enjoy the matches and try to cause as much chaos in the league table as much as they can.

“We had a good attitude on the weekend and we will carry that forward and make sure we play with zip and pride,” he added.

“I think if we just go out and play like we know we can then we can certainly throw a few spanners in the works of the league.

“I think the lads felt a bit of freedom on the weekend that let them play like they did.

“We always had the aim of being in the top four at the start of the season and there is still that goal of finishing there.

“The lads have got to take the positives from this and look forward to the rest of the matches this season and trying to disrupt the league a little bit.”

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