1st XV Match Preview V Esher (H) Sat 10/12/2016 

by Glyn Barlow

This Saturday we see the welcome return of our old friends from the Championship in the form of Esher.

The London club last visited the Common in 2012 as part of the dreaded playoffs. A 27-15 loss followed by a 13-25 defeat the following weekend contributed towards their relegation to National One at the end of the season. The play-off wins for Moseley came on top of two further regular season victories 35-21 and 14-29 for a rather unique quartet of results against the same team in one season. A series on results the men in black and amber will be keen to gain some payback for this weekend.

Formed in 1923 Esher won promotion into the National leagues in 1997/8, moving up to National One in 2000 and eventually onwards to the Championship in 2010. Following the aforementioned relegation in 2012 the team challenged hard to regain their place in the Championship finishing second. The following season life proved tougher for the Londoners with a fifth place finish. Unfortunately 2014/15 proved to be even more difficult with a tenth place, just ten points above the relegation zone.

Last season saw the team rally to claim seventh place, however this seasons campaign has proved to be a difficult one with only five wins from fourteen games putting them in eleventh place.

Esher will have been bolstered by a good win last weekend over Loughborough Students 34-22, coming on top of victories over Cambridge 40-32, Blaydon 71-24 and Coventry 34-14. Looking for their first away win of the season the team will be fully motivated when the run on to the Common.

In preparation for this season Esher have drafted in USA international second row Hayden Smith from Saracens, England 7s international full back Sam Stanley from Ealing, prop Karl Furey from Boroughmuir.

So far this season fly half Stephen Boatman has proved to be productive with the boot while scrum half Andrew Garner, wing Spencer Sutherland and centre Joe Brown have all picked up five tries, suggesting Birmingham Moseley will need to focus on their defensive lines.

In addition to their contracted squad Esher will be able to call upon the services of dual registered players Calum Waters at scrum half, fly half James Lang, England U18 wing Gabriel Ibitoye and back row Archie White from Harlequins along with back row Isaac Curtis-Harris from London Irish.

Birmingham Moseley will be looking to maintain their home winning record this weekend while re-gaining momentum to the season following the disappointments of last weekend.

The team clearly did not acquit themselves as well as they could have done in Gloucester and its incumbent on the players and coaching staff to aim for a convincing performance this week to dispel any negative views. In addition they need to start opening up a gap between those teams closing in on them in the league. Let us hope they grasp the opportunity.