An incredible 2nd half comeback from Esher gets the Lions back roaring to winning ways against a spirited Loughborough side
After a performance against Fylde which left many Esher supporters with a bitter taste in their mouth Esher was keen to get back to winning ways with the visit of mid-table Loughborough Students.
The hosts made a sound start with a period of possession in the Loughborough 22. A solid scrum created an attacking platform. The ball was moved wide but dropped in the midfield and brought the attack to a half as Loughborough cleared their lines of any danger.
The opening exchanges brought very few attacking opportunities with play stagnant in the middle of the park. Both teams competing ferociously for the ball.
Esher continued to string the phases together and enjoyed good spells of possession in the Loughborough half however unforced errors were beginning to creep into the home side’s game.
Teams often struggled to maintain control in the set piece as the windy conditions hampered with lineout efforts frustrating both hookers.
It was Loughborough who scored the game’s first try. A promising Esher attack was snuffed out as centre Freeman intercepted the pass. He broke through some weak tackling before giving the pass to wing Davis who stepped on the gas to score. Davis converted his own try to hand the visitors a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes.
The bad start for the hosts continued. The re-start was not gathered. Despite having more possession they came up against some resolute defence from the Students. Unforced errors continued to dominate the home side’s game as the ghosts of Fylde revisited.
Things got worse for the hosts as Luke Daniels went off with what looked like a re-occurrence of a hamstring problem. He was replaced by Anders Mogensen. Second row Kris Chesney then saw yellow for a needless elbow.
The visitors took advantage of being a man up as they scored two quick fire tries one from Gareth Harris and a great finish from Craig Dowsett. Davis converted the latter for a 21-0 lead to the Students in the closing exchanges before half-time.
Esher spent the vast majority of the closing exchanges pinned in their own 22 by some well drilled Loughborough defence. The home side showed a little bit more ambition and creativity but to no avail.
The half ended with the Students being reduced to 14 men as Jake Albon saw yellow for his part in a scuffle. Esher fly-half Mickey Wilson got the home side on the scoresheet on the stroke of half-time with a penalty from right in front.
HALF-TIME: Esher 3-21 Loughborough Students
Esher came firing out of the blocks in the 2nd half continuing with the ambition that they showed in the latter stages of the 1st.
A certain lack of execution you would feel from an Esher perspective but a lot of promise being shown in the early exchanges.
Esher’s patience and endeavour was finally rewarded as Mike Macfarlane broke through the Loughborough defence and cantered in to start the comeback. Wilson converted to give Esher hope at 21-10 to the visitors after 58 minutes.
The home side were beginning to regain their confidence and it showed as great play from the forwards created a platform for the backs to attack and fly-half Mickey Wilson went over. He converted his own try to narrow the gap even further to 21-17 to Loughborough after 64 mins.
Esher was looking a completely transformed in the second half in what was becoming a pulsating game. The crowd was becoming a huge part of it.
The comeback was complete in the 72nd minute as a great bust up midfield from Cheeseman laid the platform for the on-charging Sutherland who took the ball at pace and darted over. Wilson converted to send the crowd into jubilation at 24-21 to the home side.
The crowd was treated to an enthralling last few moments where the Students threw everything they had at the Esher defence. But the home side held firm to see out the game.
A great comeback from the Esher lads. A tale of two halves. Poor defending, a series of unforced errors and a lacklustre attacking display gave the Students the advantage at half-time. But a more dynamic and enthusiastic Esher side came out to play in the 2nd half to complete a great fightback and take the points from a spirited Loughborough side.
There is no fixture next week as it is a rest week. Next up is a tough away trip to Tynedale on 1st March.
FULL-TIME: Esher 24-21 Loughborough Students