Ecstasy for Esher to end perfect pre-season for B&As
By Rhys Owain Jones
On a warm but overcast evening within the M25 circle, Newport made the trip to Molesey Road to face a fellow Black & Amber team in Esher.
It was a special night for the Surrey club who were celebrating their centenary season and had invited the B&As from South Wales to mark the occasion with a one-off commemorative match.
Esher were formed in 1923 by four men who met in a pub. One of those was a man from Newport who had suggested the new team use the colours of his hometown club.
Fast forward a hundred years and the two Black & Amber sides were meeting for the first time. Newport had kindly offered to wear their alternative blue jersey for the game so the hosts could celebrate the event in the famous colours which bring both clubs together.
The match itself was certainly an entertaining one to match such an historic occasion and it was the hosts who got out of the blocks the quickest.
A tenth-minute dangerous tackle saw Rhys Jenkins earn a 10-minute trip to the bin and the hosts soon capitalised. Their winger, Dan Rowland, found an acre of space in the Newport backline to open the scoring, before some silky play from the English side’s backs led to Rowland doubling his individual tally in the corner and, together with the boot of captain Sam Morley, doubling his team’s tally.
Things got worse for the ‘Port and it was soon to be three Esher tries when second row, Charlie Morgan, broke the defensive line before feeding full-back, Owen Waters. Twenty-five minutes into the game and twenty-one points down, the Welsh team were easily the second-best Black & Amber outfit on the pitch.
They did manage to reduce the deficit though when summer signing, Wade Langley, finished a simple catch-and-drive move to open his account for the evening. However, a former B&A added to his former side’s misery and gave Esher more than a healthy lead going into the break.
Having made 42 appearances and scored 11 tries for Newport until the pandemic, Harri Lang seemed to be enjoying life at his new club and crossed over for the National League 2 East side’s fourth score of the evening. Captain Morley’s perfect kicking record meant Esher went into the break 23 points ahead.
HANNER AMSER: Esher 28-5 Newport
We’ve heard numerous times about inspiring half-time team talks and this one seemed to be no different. A mere two minutes were on the clock when Langley got his second try of the evening from a catch-and-drive move on the host’s five-metre line, and only five minutes later, he secured his hat-trick. There are no brownie points for guessing how that one came about.
Shortly before the 60-minute mark, the visitors secured their fourth try of their own. Rhys Jenkins, the first-half villain turned second-half hero, decided to take up the role of right winger and did so with great effect, racing over to touch down in the corner with not a defender in sight. With only a solitary Matt O’Brien conversion to add to their total, Newport had matched their hosts number of tries but were still a converted try behind.
The comeback however was complete shortly after Jenko’s heroics. A cross-kick from midfield landed in Lewis Bates’ hands to score on the left wing and a second O’Brien conversion put the visitors in the lead for the first time with just under twenty minutes remaining.
Newport were firmly in control at this point and had secured a sixth try on 77 minutes through Rhys Jenkins, who had taken over the reins from Wade Langley as catch-and-drive finisher. Another missed conversion though meant the South Walians were less than a converted try in front of their opponents, who were about to take advantage of some more poor discipline.
In injury time, young second-row, Tommy Chapman, became the second Newport player in the bin for a dangerous tackle, meaning the visitors were to play the remainder of the match with fourteen men.
They had struggled to contain Esher in the first half whilst a man short and were finding it difficult once again.
Deep into injury with the clock ticking, Newport were doing everything they could to defend their 100% pre-season record and Esher were desperately trying to end their special evening on a high.
In the sixth minute of injury time, their centre, Myles Rawstron-Rudd, broke the defence and was stopped agonisingly close to the end-zone by a gallant Carwyn Penny tackle, however the ball from the subsequent ruck eventually found its way wide left to substitute, James Botterill, who crossed over in the corner to put his side within one point of their visitors.
With the silence deafening and the sound of a pin dropping to be heard all around the ground, an important but difficult conversion faced Esher captain, Sam Morley, from the left-hand touchline to win it for his side.
The silence soon turned to elation when the outside-half, who had slotted over every kick he had attempted until then, confidently converted once more to win it for the Black & Ambers of Esher, much to the delight of the home crowd at Molesey Road.
This was an incredibly entertaining game of rugby which Esher thoroughly deserved to win. We wish them all the best for their season and for the rest of their centenary celebrations, hoping we won’t have to wait another 100 years before meeting again!
SGÔR TERFYNOL: Esher 35-34 Newport
Our pre-season campaign ends in disappointment, however three impressive victories out of four, all of which were on the road, mean Tyron Morris’ men will be full of confidence heading into next weekend’s Indigo Premiership curtain-raiser.
On Sunday 3 September at 5.15pm, the B&As will welcome Pontypool to Rodney Parade for the two sides’ first encounter in over a decade. The history and rivalry between both teams will certainly make this a fiery battle before a bumper crowd in Newport.
Tickets are available here: www.eticketing.co.uk/dragons/EDP/Event/Index/217
There has never been a more important time to get behind…