By Tom Little.
November 6 2012
Saturday 10th November kick off 3pm sees Coventry Rugby visit Molesley Road, Hersham to face Esher. Coventry will renew acquaintance with their former Championship rivals for the first time in three season’s following Esher’s recent relegation from the Championship.
Formed in 1923 by a Welshman in a pub they understandably adopted the colours of Newport-namely Black and Amber. Chairman of Rugby is the BBC sports personality John Inverdale.
Relegation saw a re-organisation at Esher with previous head Coach Mike Schmid, moving up to CEO, and Ollie Smith being brought in as the new coach, assisted by former Toulon and Saracens lock Khris Chesney as player coach.
Despite relegation Esher have managed to keep a majority of last season’s squad together apart from former Coventry player Phil MacKenzie, who has gone to Premiership side London Welsh. Mark Atkinson playing at No 10 went onto the Bedford Blues, whilst winger Geoff Griffiths has moved to National League 1 rivals Blackheath.
Esher have managed to bring in some key new players such as goal kicker and back Chris Elder on loan from Wasps, and Ollie Frost from Worcester Warriors. Gareth Morgan either at centre or fly half has also come in from Worcester. Other key backs on view include experienced centre Tom Cheeseman and goal kicking fullback Rob Kirby who is in the top 10 league kickers.
They have two fast wingers in their leading try scorer Andy Wright and former Coventry winger Spencer Sutherland.
A good all round side Esher has a powerful pack led by Khris Chesney coupled with an impressive back row including Mark Macfarlane who scored a hat trick last Saturday against Cambridge, together with Club Captain Ian Kench and Jack Clifford.
Esher try to play a fast moving game using their pack to supplement their impressive backs, and are at present are third in the try scoring lists with 47 tries compared to Coventry’s 28.
The shock of relegation saw Esher make a slow start to their National league 1 season, losing two of their first 4 games to Fylde and Wharfedale. Since then they have lost only one more match to the then leaders Ealing Tfs by just 5 points. Excellent high scoring wins have followed amongst others over Blackheath, Old Albanians, Sedgley Park and Cambridge. A close home win over Cinderford has left them challenging the leaders Rosslyn Park in 4th place just 6 points behind them.
Coventry Rugby last played Esher when they were both in the then named National League 1, later renamed the Championship in seasons 2007/8 and 2008/9. These two seasons saw the 4 matches evenly shared with both sides winning their home ones.
Coventry’s visit to Surrey brings up some mouth-watering contests between Scott Morgan and Khris Chesney at lock, and possibly the two most effective back rows in the league. Coventry’s new wing recruit Tom Harris meets former Coventry wing Spencer Sutherland, and at half back Gareth Morgan comes across the kicking of Cliffie Hodgson.
This meeting is a real test for both sides, can Esher maintain their march on the title with their free scoring team but which has defensive frailties against the best defensive record in the league. Coventry Rugby have their own agenda to show that they are a genuine top 5 contender with the team now coming together more as a unit.
The Coventry Rugby side will be announced later on in the week when available.
Coventry Rugby press office.
6th November 2012