By Paddy von Behr
Craig Chalmers believes Esher are still very much in the promotion hunt in SSE National League One after heading into the Christmas break off the back of a winning run.
Esher suffered three straight defeats in November, at the hands of fellow promotion chasers Doncaster Knights, Rosslyn Park and Coventry.
However they have bounced back this month with three consecutive wins, most recently a hard-fought 13-8 win at Henley Hawks on Saturday.
They now have the chance to recharge the batteries over Christmas and New Year and coach Chalmers is convinced there is nothing stopping Esher from mounting a title challenge.
“We know we can compete with Doncaster and Rosslyn Park – they are no better than us,” said Chalmers.
“Three games we had against Doncaster, Rosslyn Park and Coventry and we could have won, but we are still in the hunt.
“We have got a really tough start in the New Year with Blaydon but just to get that win under our belt was really was really important. The confidence is starting to come back.
“It is important that we are not festive for too long with a defeat hanging over us. We will obviously enjoy Christmas and New Year and hopefully get off to a good start in the New Year.
“I still don’t believe that we have played as well as we can do for a whole game. We have given away some soft tries that have cost us games.
“The guys are going to enjoy it. They work hard when they come into training and they look after themselves so hopefully that will be the case over the festive period.”
The win at Henley was a scrappy affair, in which number eight Michael MacFarlane’s first-half try proved to be the difference.
Luke Daniels added two penalties and a conversion in tricky conditions and Chalmers was pleased with the way they showed great resolve in the latter stages to secure the points.
“There were a lot of mistakes – it was two teams that didn’t play particularly well,” he added.
“The scrum was pretty good at times but it was a horrible day and definitely one for the purists. But it was a win.
“Some good teams have come unstuck at Henley this season and we always knew it was going to be a tough game. We ground out the result and we played the last five minutes really well.”
SSE, proud sponsor of the National and Divisional Leagues, has £10,000 worth of mobile floodlights for your club to win. To find out how to enter go to www.SSERugby.com