by John Butler
SUPERIOR power, pace and guile, just three factors which contributed to a big Coventry win at Molesey Road which went a long way to repairing the club’s poor previous record on the ground.
Previous visits had produced just one win, four seasons ago, but once the effect of conceding a try so soon after the kick-off had been overcome, in reality, there was only ever going to be one final result.
Some disappointment, however, and no doubt questions asked as to how four tries were conceded, which enabled Esher to gain a try bonus point.
The feeling post-match from the locals was that Esher had probably never really expected to get much more from this match, despite having won their two previous home games with quite a bit to spare.
Nine tries to four though tells a pretty emphatic story and had not the second half become a little loose, then the margin of victory might have been even higher.
The opening moments gave little indication of what was to follow. With Cov not clearing up the initial kick-off, Esher recycled several times, leading to fly-half Paul Roberts cleverly grubber kicking through for former Cov winger Spencer Sutherland to gather and claim the try with 37 seconds on the clock. Roberts converted and a shocked Coventry were 7-0 down.
In their red and white change strip, Cov soon retaliated. After Phil Boulton had been held up, the first scrum penalty was won with Will Maisey kicking his side into the left corner.
From there, the forwards took over and after Latu Makaafi had been held on the line, Esher infringed again with referee Gareth Holsgrove awarding Cov their second penalty try in consecutive weeks. No conversion necessary under the present Laws with the sides now level.
Sutherland was yellow carded for his part in the infringement, Esher minutes later being reduced to 13 men when full-back Lloyd Davies received his yellow for a deliberate knock-on.
Cov were really piling on the pressure, Nile Dacres making an impressive surge, and on 21 minutes the visitors went in front, never to be overhauled again.
An astute Maisey crossfield punt found James Stokes, the full-back gathering to fly over and Maisey landing a quite superb conversion for 14-7.
On 29 minutes Cov surged further ahead. With Jack Preece particularly assertive, a close-in position was gained and hooker Phil Nilsen piled over, Maisey again converting.
By now it was pretty well one-way traffic. Within three minutes a quite brilliant Coventry move saw Pete White finish off to claim the try bonus point in 32 minutes, Rob Knox twice figuring in the move with powerful bursts and Maisey again adding the extras to leave Cov well in control at 28-7.
Lock Liam Edwards made a brave burst for Esher which Cov defended strongly, but the Esher forwards were not to be denied and a telling catch and saw hooker Ca;;um O’Connell driven over, Roberts this time missing his kick.
Esher were unlucky when a collision between two of their players left winger Kariym Irving injured and forced to depart, but Cov were in no mood to ease up as they scored two further tries before half-time with fully ten minutes added on.
First, a superb Heath Stevens break led to a maiden try for winger Tom Emery on his debut and with Cov simply piling on more and more pressure, Masiey crossed for try number six. Maisey converted both for a 42-12 margin at the break with flanker forward Guiseppe Salustri now the third Esher player to receive a yellow card.
From a Coventry perspective, the second half never quite reached the same heights again as, facing a 30-point deficit, Esher clearly were going to throw caution to the wind which to some degree worked.
No points at all for 12 minutes, although the impressive Luke Narraway, conspicuous throughout, was involved in a fine move with White.
It was Esher who scored first. A counter from defence and again a fine grubber kick saw Davies steam over, Roberts converting.
Eight minutes later though, Cov responded. Initially Esher again produced a long move out of defence, only to lose possession &and with Emery leading the Cov counter, Stokes steamed away for his second try of the afternoon and sixth of the season.
Almost immediately, Knox added Cov’s eighth try after a Maisey chip and with the fly-half converting both, Cov were truly out of sight at 56-19.
There was still time for two more scores. Firstly, Knox added his second try – Maisey surprising all on the ground by actually missing the conversion – before two minutes into added on time Esher gained their reward through lock forward Hugo Seccombe, Roberts converting with the last kick of the game.
Five more maximum points for Coventry, but still not enough to overtake unbeaten Darlington Mowden Park at the top of the table.
Esher: tries Sutherland (1) O’Connell (33), Davies (52), Seccombe (76); conversions Roberts 3 (2, 53, 77). Coventry: tries Stokes 2 (18, 57), Knox 2 (58, 74), penalty try (15), Nilsen (27), White (29), Emery (36), Maisey (38); conversions Maisey 7 (18, 27, 29, 38, 40, 57, 58).
Esher: Davies; Irving (Bvuma 36), Brown (Arnold 65), Arnold (James 45), Sutherland; Roberts, Trotter; Furey (Lowes 65), O’Connell (Harding 46), Lowes (Leigh 35), Seccombe, Edwards, Gentles, Salustri (Gossington 50), Bone.
Coventry: Stokes; Emery (White 63), Grove (Matoto 47), Stevens, Knox; Maisey, White (Brazier 47); Litchfield (Boulton 51), Nilsen (Price 57), Boulton (Titchard-jones 35, Litchfield 67), Dacres, Oram, Makaafi (Preece 47), Preece (Povoas 41), Narraway (Nilsen 78).
Referee: Gareth Holsgrove.