Esher ready for derby clash

Surrey Herald/News - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

Steve Porter

Warn­ing shot: Ali Chisholm has warned his Esher

team-mates there are tough times ahead.

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