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Esher 29 Canterbury 21: National League 2 East report

By David Haigh

After conceding 17 points in the first 13 minutes, Canterbury were never quite accurate enough to recover the lost ground in a 29-21 National League 2 East defeat at Esher.

The visitors, looking for a swift return to Division 1 after last season's relegation, used the ball more effectively and held up well in defence when the city side's pack edged matters in the second half.

A last-ditch cover tackle in the final moments denied Canterbury not only a fourth try but a couple of bonus points - harsh after their battling efforts went unrewarded.

After last week's blistering early spell against Tonbridge Juddians, the city side this time found themselves on the receiving end as the hosts helped themselves to three quick tries. A clean break saw Charlie Morgan grab the first after only two minutes, scrum-half Pierre Thompson scored number two from a counter attack and hooker Andy Hamilton broke off a maul to punish a team that were falling off too many tackles.

It could have been worse had Sam Morley managed more than one conversion. From that low point the city side began their revival and it was the pack who breathed life into the game as Tyler Oliver crossed the line from a driving maul. Frank Reynolds' fine conversion from wide out was another booster, but Esher struck again when the defence fatally stood off and wing James Botterill broke a tackle to claim the bonus- point try.

Canterbury needed another score in the 10 minutes before half-time and found it through a close-range forward effort. Prop Pierce Holland powered over and with Reynolds' second conversion they were only eight points adrift at the break and back in business.

The second half was a far more attritional affair but it was the skills of