Esher suffer their first defeat of the new year as they are outclassed by a dynamic and a enthusiastic Old Albanians side
Old Albanians started the game with real intensity and applied pressure on the Esher forwards. This brought about the game’s first penalty opportunity at goal. Lawrence Rayner struck the ball sweetly. His kick had the legs but not quite the accuracy.
OA’s dominated territory and possession in the opening exchanges. Luke Daniels tried to take Esher into the Old Albanians half with a good run but momentum was soon lost.
Despite not gaining much possession Esher’s defence held firm and kept out whatever OA’s threw at them. The home side were starting to look threatening with the ball in hand as they were keen to use the wider channels.
OA’s continue to threaten the Esher try line but it was the visitors who got the first points on the board. As the home side were pinged for not releasing Luke Daniels stepped up to put the visitors 3-0 ahead with 11 minutes gone.
The home side continued their dynamic and vibrant style of attacking play but Esher’s defence was continuing to hold firm. OA’s were starting to make their territory count.
Esher tried to play a decent territory and kicking game with fly-half Mickey Wilson the principal architect. However unforced errors were beginning to creep into their game.
The visitors showed real solidity in defence as OA’s threw everything they had at them.
Old Albanians continued to show real width in attack. When Esher went down to 14 men OA’s seized the opportunity and utilised the one man advantage as Danny Holmes went over the whitewash from an overlap. Rayner converted well to give the hosts a 7-3 lead just before the break.
The home side then extended their lead just before the interval with a cracker of a try. Number eight Johnson steamed upfield before an out the back offload to an on-rushing Cooper-Millar who timed his pass perfectly to put Smith in for the try. Rayner converted to give OA’s a 14-3 lead at half-time.
A much more energised Esher side finished the 1st half well with number eight Mike Macfarlane at the heart of the strong ball carrying.
HALF-TIME: Old Albanians 14-3 Esher
Esher continued their much more enthusiastic approach to the end of the 1st half in the 2nd. However the Old Albanians defence held firm.
OA’s then extended their lead on 52 minutes as a Lawrence Rayner penalty made the score 17-3.
Then a huge chance for Esher went begging. A scything run from full-back Luke Daniels splintered the OA’s defence but despite having two supporting runners on his inside shoulder his pass went forward and didn’t go to hand.
The Esher players were made to pay for their missed opportunities as Old Albanians full-back Richard Gregg went over for the home side’s 3rd try of the game. A bullocking run from second row Maro Itoje created space out wide and Raynor found Gregg who cantered in. Rayner made no mistake with the conversion to make the score 24-3.
OA’s constant pressure brought the inevitable and the home side killed the contest with their 4th and bonus point try as scrum-half Liebenberg darted through a gap in the Esher defence to dot down under the posts. Rayner converted to make it 31-3 with minutes left to play.
Esher did get on the scoresheet with a consolation try for flanker Cameron Gentles. Whelan couldn’t convert and the final whistle was blown.
A comprehensive win for Old Albanians who taught Esher a lesson in dynamic attacking play. Esher face Wharfedale at Molesey Road next Saturday.
FULL-TIME: Old Albanians 31-8 Esher