Esher just edged out Cinderford in an enthralling match of ten tries that went right down to the last play.
The visitors opened the scoring when Chris Elder went over for a try which Luke Daniels converted. Cinderford quickly responded when winger Nev Codlin crossed for a try which Mark Davies converted and this was quickly followed by an unconverted score from hooker Jack Preece to make it 12-7 after just eleven minutes play.
Two penalties from Daniels and one from Davies preceded the home team’s third try, which was scored by second-row Ben West and converted by Davies. Esher finished the first-half strongly and after a series of scrums near the home line the referee awarded them a penalty try, which Daniels converted to make it 22-20 at the interval.
Davies landed his second penalty early in the second-half but Esher responded with three try burst which was to prove decisive. First to score was scrum-half Andy Garner, who scrambled over in the corner. This was soon followed by a superb individual try from full-back Charlie Walker who returned a kick inside his own 22 and race clear to touchdown.
Then prop Ollie Mines was driven over from lineout catch and drive. Daniels converted all three of the tries to maintain his 100% kicking record.
At 25-41 behind the game looked beyond Cinderford but they staged a thrilling come back in the final quarter. Winger Lloyd Stapleton went over in the corner following a cross-field kick from Davies, who also landed the conversion. Then Rob Langley scored the home sides’ fifth try, but Davies missed a crucial conversion that would have brought CInderford within 2 points of Esher. With a tense few final minutes Cinderford spent 2 minutes camped on the Esher line, and just when the home crowd sensed an injury time winning try Esher held the ball up as Cinderford pushed over the line, the referee blowing the final whistle to end Cinderford’s late comeback.
Man of the match – Joe Garner
Mike Wilcox, Nev Codlin, Jack Adams, Dewi Scourfield (Kai Done 76), Lloyd Stapleton, Mark Davies, Danny Pointon, Joe Smart (Chris Bundy 66), Jack Preece (Tom Bozzard 60), Nick Selway, Ben West, Ed King (Dale Critchley 60), Luke Allen (Will Foden 60), Rob Langley, Joe Garner