Esher RFC v Worthing Raiders 29th February 2020



Esher RFC v Worthing Raiders 29th February 2020 Kick-off   300pm

Raiders are on the road again this Saturday, although they are only travelling just up the road to visit our near neighbours Esher RFC. Raiders have visited their base in Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey on a number of occasions over the years, but this will be the first visit for a National 2 (S) fixture. Our last visit was on 1st February 2014 for a National League 1 match.

Esher visited Roundstone Lane last November, Raiders were victorious 20-15.

History and Background stuff

The club was formed in 1923 when, apparently, four rugby enthusiasts agreed to start a club. Their names are not disclosed on the web, but one member of the quartet was Welsh and an avid Newport supporter. He insisted that the club should adopt the Newport strip of ‘Amber & Gold’, the colours that are used almost 100 years later! Most clubs in this era, started life using a farmer’s field and the local pub for post-match discussions, but such information as it may apply to Esher is not readily to hand. In the amateur days the club was proud to field up to 15 teams on a Saturday, which must have caused quite a crush in their clubhouse! It also must have provided them with an extensive list of members, many of whom are now probably Patrons or Vice Presidents of the club. Television and Radio presenter John Inverdale and former England international Simon Halliday are Directors.

Their extensive facilty includes 5 full sized pitches within the 23acre site, along with a substantial club house that provides facilities with 3 separate dining suites and bars. The club has obtained planning permission to erect a 2,000 seater spectator stand that will also incorporate a gymnasium, hospitality and conference suites, changing facilities and bars.

(In the preview ahead of the November fixture I twittered about the substantial flock of parakeets that roost in the tall Poplars adjoining the club grounds…alas I have it on good authority that the Poplars have been felled resulting in the departure of the parakeets! Where have they gone?)

The club turns out 4 Senior XV’s most Saturdays (1st XV, Cardinals, Abbots, Expendables). Junior/Mini Rugby taking over on Sundays.

In 2018  a Ladies team was formed Esher Lionesses.

League History

At the outset of the league system in 1987, Esher were placed in London 1 (level5), but were relegated that season and it took until 1993 to return. They were promoted to the National League system in 1997/8 and have retained that status ever since. They settled at National League 1 (level 3) from 2000 until promotion to what is now Championship (level 2) in 2007. They were rather controversially relegated in 2009 when the league size was changed mid-season, but bounced back to level 2 the following year. After relegation again in 2012, they have enjoyed relative success in National 1 (2nd  in 2013) until relegation last season. (The club have won the Surrey Cup 8 times, last in 2012.)

Over the years they have maintained a strong link with Harlequins.

Worthing v Esher over the years…….

Raiders and Esher have played against each other on a number of occasions over the years;

The results in National League & Cup encounters:

12th January 2018 EDF Trophy: Esher 39 Raiders 8

2013/4 National 1:       W19 E25    E36 W19

2019/20 National 2(S) W20 E15

9th November 2019 Worthing Raiders 20 Esher 15

This fixture was 11th (17pts) v 4th (33pts) with both clubs on a high after victories the previous week against Clifton (10-24) and Taunton Titans (10-8) respectively. Once again the weather forecast was spot on…..torrential rain all afternoon. Nevertheless, both teams put on a show for the 300+ hardy spectators, playing some decent rugby despite the ghastly conditions.

In the end Raiders defence clung on for a hard earnt win, at one point putting together 38 phases to deny the visitors possession. Matt McLean making his 251st appearance for Raiders, getting the man-of-the-match accolade from The Rugby Paper with a fine all-round display and 15 points to add to his substantial tally. The B&W man-of-the-match was tight head Rhys Litterick who put in another hearty display up-front. Ben Atkins celebrated his debut off the bench for Esher with a brace of tries. He is with London Irish Academy and recently represented England U20.

Raiders: McLean, Forrest H, Forrest J, Richards, Barnes, Anscombe, Waters: Birch, Luke, Litterick, Barlow, Lake, Holmes, Dawe, Perkins. Bench: Gibson, Cook, Maguire, Whittall, Gwyther.

Scorers: T: Dawe (9m), McLean (24m), P: McLean x2 (53 & 57m), C: McLean x2

Esher: Venus, James, Anyanwu, Druce, Freeman, Roberts, Walsh: Lowes, Hope, Lamb, Gentles, Bullett, Dow, Wilkins, Berry. Bench: Atkins, Leigh, Davies, Mitchell, Bullock.

Scorers: T; Atkins x2 (18 &65m) P: Roberts (4m) C: Roberts (18m)

Last season P30 W11  15th  61 points…..Relegated

Esher achieved the double over Sale and also came out on top against 9 other clubs in this very difficult tier 3 league. Included in the wins was an amazing (49-48) event against Ampthill who won promotion. They also lowered the colours of 3rd place Rosslyn Park on their new plastic pitch (17-25). They won (22-24) in the last match of the season at 4th placed Blackheath, but other results went against them for relegation to follow. In many seasons 60pts is seen as the benchmark, but Esher would have needed 65pts to overtake Cambridge.

Top try scorer was Joe Beckett with 11 (followed by ex-Raider Kariym Irving who had 8). Topping the appearances was scrum half Jack Walsh with 29, followed by forwards Charlie Gossington  and Cameron Gentles who both put in 28 shifts.

This season so far……P22  W13 D1….7th….70pts  (Raiders 10th 55pts)

Esher have had an Ok season, although their away form has rather let them down and would not support any plans new coach and England legend Peter Winterbottom may have harboured for an immediate return to National 1. On the road they have achieved 4 wins out of 11 matches, whereas home form has produced 9 (seven 5pointers). The defeats on home turf have been against Henley Hawks (13-34) and Bury St Edmunds (14-21). The draw was down in Bristol against Old Reds (25 a-piece). After the Raiders match, there is opportunity to create a little mayhem amongst the promotion contenders.  They visit Hawks on 7th March, with the re-arranged encounter at Taunton Titans on the 14th. The following week, 21st, they entertain Tonbridge Juddians. Who knows, there could still be an important part to play in the promotion battle as their penultimate fixture is a trip to Clifton (18th April) with the final match a visit from Redruth (25th April). What a league this is!!!

The players

A list of the players used in the last match, (the re-arranged ‘Festive’ fixture against Barnes, played under floodlight last Friday, W34-10), is provided along with details on a few more players who have been used in recent fixtures.

As mentioned for the home leg, a number of players used last season have either retired or moved to pastures new, but influential scrum half Jack Walsh, experienced lock forward New Zealander Cameron Gentles and back row forward Charlie Gossington are still in the fold and have featured in most of the fixtures. Experienced loose head Matt Lowes has also been ever present. Harrison Collins another experienced campaigner has also returned and featured in the back-row in the last couple of fixtures.

Winger Tom James leads the way as top try scorer with 12. Fly-half  Tristan Roberts, who missed the Barnes match, is top points scorer with 143.

Name/age*played v Raiders 9/11/19 Apps 2019/20 Total apps Joined Pts Honours Position/Previous Clubs                                     *Played v Raiders
Played v Barnes           Friday 21st February  WON  34-10
Tom Mitchell* (25) 9/1R 10 2019 2T   FB: Esher Cardinals, Univ of Bath
Tom James* (29) 19 19 2019 12T Welsh Unis W: Ebbw Vale, Newport, UWIC, Bond Univ (Aus)
Dan Rowland (24) 12/2R 51 2017 3T   C: Univ Of Bath, Chinnor, Tring
Sam Druce* (26) 15 15 2019 1T6C1P England Univ RL C:: Leeds Beckett RL, St Mary’s RL, London Skolars RL
Joe Beckett (27) 11 69 2016 4T England Students W: Newcastle Univ, Ponsoby (nz)
James Chaumeton (23) 12 12 2019 1T6C4P   FH: Univ of Birmingham
Jack Walsh* (27) 15/7R 51 2018 4T England 7’s & Counties SH: Wasps, London Welsh 1, Blackheath*160.
Matt Lowes* (26) 21/1R 59 2016 5T1C   LHP: Caldy 51
Andy Hamilton (24) 8/4R 12 2019 3T   H: Blackheath 2, Taunton Titans*31.
Dan Lamb* (20) 10/7R 17 2019 England Count u20 P: West Park Yorks
Hugh Sloan (23) 5/6R 11 2019 Ire u20 L: Queens Univ, Mount Maunganu (NZ)
Fraser Wem (27) 5 5 2019   Scot u18 L: Newcastle Univ, Tynedale, Richmond
Cameron Wilkins* (21) 20/1R 21 2019 3T Kent U20 OSWF: Gravesend, Loughborough Bucs, Leicester ‘A’, Whitgift
Charlie Gossington (27) 13/2R 119 2011 2T Eng Count Surrey BR: Harlequins ‘A’, Chipstead
Harrison Collins (29) 1/1R 91 2014 1T   No8:Preston Grasshoppers9, Fylde 3, Newcastle Falcons 3, Tynedale 12
Sam Bullock* (25) 7/10R 20 2018 2T Scottish Students SH: Glasgow University, Glasgow Hawks, Dubai Exiles
Gareth Lewis (22) 0/4R 4 2019   P or H:-
Adam Bullett*(30) 10/3R 13 2019 1T L: Weybridge Vandals
Lorcan Dow* (24) 15/3R 18 2019 1T Ire U20 10caps BSWF: Richmond 4, Ulster7.
Oisin Kearney (19) 0/1R 1 2020 Irish Exiles THP: London Oratory, Millfield, Ealing Academy, Brunel Univ, London Irish Academy
PLAYED RECENTLY         Last Played  
Tristan Roberts* (32) 16 16 2019 4T42C


8th Feb FH: Ealing 14, London Welsh 16, Doncaster Knights 30, Gloucester 1, Mosel;ey 54, Cinderford 30, Bristol 62, Us Cognac (fr)
Cameron Gentles* (30) 19/1R 182 2012 8T 8th Feb L: Amersham & Chiltern
Devlin Hope* (29) 13/3R 71 2017 4T 8th Feb Surrey Golden Lions H:Darlington MP 2, London Scottish 5, Coventry 25.
Gus Locke (21) 2/1R 3 2019 2P1C 8th Feb Surrey u20 NSW-County FH: Old Reigatians, Wanderers (Newcastle Aus)
Callum Monks (25) 11 44 2016 4T 1st Feb FB: –
Ben Davies * (23) 11/2R 13 2019 2T 1st Feb Wales Students OSWF: Ospreys Academy, Dunvant, Hartpury, Swansea
James Booth (21) 8 8 2019 6T 1st Feb SE England u20 W: Chipstead, Ealing Academy
Hugo Solway (24) 2/4R 14 2016 11th Jan L: Oxford Brookes
Patrick Calvert (27) 0/4R 4 2019 25th Jan Eastern Count H: Cambridge Univ, Blackheath
Joel Keefe (24) 1/4R 5 2019 25th Jan Prop: Esher Cardinals

Once again another tough challenge and an exciting fixture awaits………

Leafy Surrey is but a short journey up the road and who knows what may happen in this rather topsy-turvey season resultswise.

You can be sure that the boys will be putting in maximum effort to try and get the double-up over our near rivals.

If you can make it to add your touchline support it will be much appreciated by the players. It’s a few seasons since we visited Hersham so let’s get behind the team and make it a great afternoon!!!

………..C’Mon Raiders.