- Surrey side see-off Oxford in Varsity warm-up
- Molesey Road stages famous win for England Women
Photo: Leo Wilkinson
Esher Rugby took on Oxford University on Monday evening as part of the side's preparations for the annual Varsity game against Cambridge at Twickenham on December 8.
The fixture at Molesey Road was the climax to a series of challenging pre-game fixtures for John Carter’s Oxford side, who previously recorded a win against Major Stanley’s but suffered heavy losses to Northampton A and London Welsh.
The RFU Championship side, who are currently struggling at the bottom of the table, have something of a history with the Blues, having beaten them 28-10 last year to avenge a defeat from the previous year. With Mike Schmid's side still searching for a first Championship win this season, the game was a perfect opportunity to build some confidence ahead of a tough clash against Nottingham on Friday, December 2.
Esher take heart from win
And, despite their league position, Esher will have taken real heart from the performance which saw the Surrey outfit record a 32-20 victory over the University side.
Oxford started the game brightly, winning an early penalty that gave them a three-point lead. But the home side responded, pilling on the pressure on the opposition line with skipper, Shawn Renwick, powering off the base of a 5m scrum to open the try scoring.
Esher were straight back on the attack and inside centre Mark Atkinson made good use of the long dead-ball area to put a kick through for wing Andy Wright to add another five points.
In what became a see-saw match, Oxford took the ball up the other end and crashed over from close range, adding the conversion to level things up.
Andy Wright’s second and third scores came either side of an Oxford yellow card and in both instances, good hands from the Esher backs saw him outflank the Blues defence and cross in the corner.
Not to be outdone, both Oxford wings capitalised on errors from the Surrey side and scampered in for scores of their own to bring the game back to within two points.
Eventually, Esher were given some breathing space to move down field and within striking distance, allowing Renwick a score.
With moments remaining and only seven points in it, Oxford threw everything they had at the home side, in search of an equalising score. However, a quick turnover saw the ball moved wide to replacement scrum half Nic Losardo who nipped in at the corner in the final act of the match.
And the action at Molesey Road didn’t stop there, as the England Women took to the field to face the Black Ferns on Tuesday evening. Streamed live on rfu.com, the game ended in a 21-7 victory for the ladies in white and a second consecutive win over the New Zealanders