Esher will give Students a ruthless lesson in National One life
Esher head coach Ollie Smith has warned freshers’ week cannot start early for National One new boys Loughborough Students on Saturday.
The Molesey Road men travel to the Midlands this week having got their own campaign up and running with a 33-28 home win over Blackheath after an opening day defeat at Fylde.
The Students are without a win since winning National Division Two North last season and Smith insisted his men would not give them an easy ride with term time still a fortnight away.
“These are games that we have to win and win well if we are going to be up at the top challenging for promotion at the end of the season,” he said.
“They are a renowned rugby university and they are now doing it in the national leagues.
“We will not underestimate them, but at the same time this is a game we must win – period.
“Blackheath are a good side, but we could have really put some points on them at the weekend and made a statement to the rest of the league if we had been more ruthless.
“That is what we have to be this week.”
Full back Chris Elder and scrum half Patrick O’Grady gave Esher a 14-6 half time advantage, but 20 minutes of madness after the break saw Andy Wright sin-binned and Esher trailing 21-14.
A converted Kris Chesney effort levelled the scores before Wright atoned for his earlier misdemeanour by giving his side the lead, which was extended further by Tom Cheeseman.
Esher’s cause was not helped by the early departure of fly half Gareth Morgan with a thigh injury, but Smith felt there was still plenty in the tank for his men.
“I felt we let ourselves down at Fylde so it was great to right that wrong straight away,” he said.
“But for 15 minutes of madness-slash-stupidity, it could have been more convincing but some of our attacking lines were excellent.
“Gareth looked like he might struggle so we moved Chris Elder up, but the number 10 position is just another cog in a big wheel for me.
“Providing we stick to our style of rugby, we could play any number of players in that position. We earned a ‘favourites’ reputation at Leicester Tigers. That is what we have to do.”