by Joe Heaton

Esher v Moseley, at Molesey Road , Hersham , National League Division 1,
Saturday, March 7th 2009, k.o. 3.00 pm

Moseley players, officials and supporters both at Old Deer Park and those elsewhere ‘in the ether’ avidly watching the updates on the message board were rightly elated at around 4pm last Saturday. Reaching the semi-finals of the EDF Energy National Trophy by way of a late victory over London Welsh (27-21) was cause to celebrate.

The news, at 5pm, however, that Esher had had a superb away win in National League One beating Rotherham 40-19 put things into perspective and gave an early warning that focus had to immediately switch to the task this Saturday.

There is no doubt that Esher’s triumph was one of the best results in National League One this season. At the start of the game, Rotherham were two places higher than Esher and not accustomed to losing any of their League matches by a margin of twenty-one points.

It is clear that Esher are no longer the team that Moseley beat at home early in November and who struggled in the lower reaches of League One for the first half of the season. The prospect of not being included in the proposed new Championship (they have been twelfth in the League for quite some time now) has concentrated their minds wonderfully.

Also, their performances on the field have been enhanced by the players they now have on loan from Premiership club Harlequins. The results of their last three League matches tell the tale.

28th February: Rotherham 19 v Esher 40 W

31st January Manchester 28 v Esher 40 W

24th January Esher 49 v Newbury 18 W

Few league matches in recent years have been the subject of so much analysis and conjecture at this stage of the season as Saturday’s match against Moseley at Molesey Road in Hersham.

Many armchair pundits have been trying to predict the final positions in the league table to determine which club will be in the all important eleventh place that will deliver a place in the Championship.

The possible permutations are legion but one thing is thankfully certain - if Moseley lose on Saturday it does not automatically mean that Esher will finish in eleventh place. It would mean, however, that Moseley’s task to gain a place in the Championship will be that much harder and nervier. Conversely a win would put Moseley within striking distance of success. ‘Anorak’s Corner’ down below gives some guidance!

The relative positions of Moseley and Esher currently are:
             P W D L BP Pts Pos
Moseley 20 8 0 12 11 43 11th
Esher    22 7 1 14 9 39 12th

Esher entered National League 2 on promotion from London League 1 at the end of season 1999/2000 and were promoted to National League 1 at the end of the 2006-2007 season. This is thus their second campaign at the higher level and at the end of last season they were very pleased to have consolidated their place by coming 12th. This was two positions below Moseley and even more impressive when you consider their shaky start which saw them win just one of their first eight games.

Esher R.F.C. was formed in 1923, disbanded during WW2 and reformed in 1946. A few years later they bought a 27 acre ground in Hersham, the present value (even in these straightened circumstances) of which makes the mind boggle. They have a relatively new club house and four pitches. Esher and Hersham form part of the Borough of Elmbridge.

Former Canadian international Mike Schmid, who led Esher to promotion and was formerly at Rotherham , is the club’s coach and the high profile John Inverdale is Director of Rugby.

Last season Moseley beat Esher 12-6 away in Dec 2007 and managed to put 50 points on the Surrey men in an end of season bonanza at Billesley.



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