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Close scoreline can't disguise Wharfedale's superiority
Buy this photo » Nick Taylor dives over for Wharfedale's second try
Wharfedale 18, Esher 15
Wharfedale secured a second notable SSE National League One scalp at The Avenue in defeating Esher yesterday in a game they dominated for long periods in either half.
Neither a strong rearguard finish nor their three tries to two advantage could disguise the fact that the fancied Londoners were outplayed by an energetic and hungrier home side.
Scores were slow in coming in the opening half as either side had periods of early ascendancy.
Wharfedale produced some exciting early running, building the cohesion and pace lacking in recent seasons.
And though the visitors proved a powerful presence near the Wharfedale line, it was the Greens who finished strongly to collect a superbly worked try when winger Simon Horsfall finished at pace after a smart Nick Taylor break and creative work by Aaron Myers.
And, right on the break, Christian Georgiou added a penalty to his earlier conversion for a 10-0 interval lead.
Esher, whose first-half attack had been limited to unavailing forward drives, were a more forceful presence after the break, scoring an early try by winger Andrew Wright after a powerful long break by centre Tom Cheesman.
After some stirring play spearheaded by an all-action display by No 8 Myers, the most influential player on the field by a mile, Georgiou stretched the home lead with a penalty before more rousing attack turned pressure on an Esher line-out into a fine try when Horsfall’s chip over the wide defence saw Taylor collect and dive over in the corner for a dominant 18-5 advantage.
Though Wharfedale never quite managed the fine creative quality of their first-half play, their defence - magisterially marshalled by veteran centre Andy Hodgson – held firm as Cheesman and powerful No 8 Mike Macfarlane combined to produce a destructive midfield runs.
Esher responded belatedly with all-out attack and two last-ten-minute tries. The first was a fortuitous runaway score from Mark Schofield with a knock-on start and a possibly doubtful grounding finish, and then a final-minute second try for Wright, bringing Esher a losing bonus point.
But this final flourish could not disguise the superiority and greater authority of another fine home Wharfedale performance.