Esher ready for derby clash
TAKING revenge on Richmond will be Esher’s task on Saturday, writes Richard Spiller. They go into the derby with the benefit of a weekend off, caused by Saturday’s clash at Wharfedale being postponed, the pitch completely frozen. As it was called off a day earlier it saved the Surrey side from having to embark on a long journey, although they face a clutch of them in the new year. Richmond had no such luck and were beaten 40-33 at Fylde, a fourth defeat in five National League One outings, and going down again at Molesey Road would allow the hosts – two places and a brace of points behind but with a match in hand – to overtake. When the sides met in September at the Athletic ground, it was Richmond who prevailed, 30-25, despite a late visitors’ fightback, Esher’s former fullback Rob Kirby kicking three conversions and penalties to punish his old club’s indiscipline but at least they finished with two bonus points. Ali Chisholm, who wears the number 15 shirt now, was still returning from a hand injury suffered in the summer then. Now he is acutely aware of the dangers posted by Richmond. He said: “They had a very good off-loading game and kicked very well, so we have to keep both in mind this time.” Esher will be expecting a good pre-Christmas crowd for the local spat against the former Premiership side, who spent three years at elite level when professionalism first arrived in the English game. They then went bust and have had to fight their way back through the divisions to the third tier. “All the games involving clubs around us, like Richmond, Rosslyn Park and Blackheath, are pretty tough ones,” warned Chisholm, freed from kicking duties himself since Ian Cross returned to the side, the former London Irish flyhalf having been injured during the game at Richmond but returning profitably in the past month. “He’s come into the side and done really well for us, kicking well out of the hand and at goal and that has made a difference,” Chisholm conceded.
Last weekend’s call-off at Wharfedale was also handy given several first-choice players were away in the Caribbean, where they helped Esher Golden Lions win the Tobago International 7s. Their first five qualifying games were won – including a 12-7 victory over New York City, who beat them in the final last year – and a 12-12 draw against the Howlers of Canada assured a place in the climax again.
Up against the Stars, tries from Charlie Gossington, Jack Cooke and Andreas Robertson assured a 19-14 victory with Joe MacManus awarded the player-of-thetournament prize.
Warning shot: Ali Chisholm has warned his Esher
team-mates there are tough times ahead.