Plymouth Albion did just enough to see off Esher at Molesey Road to secure their first victory and first bonus point of the season. The match was a very scrappy affair with both teams making a number of unforced errors.
Albion’s performance was certainly an improvement on their opening day loss but there is a lot to work on for head coach Kieran Hallett and his support team.
Star of the show for Albion was skipper Herbie Stupple who led by example and fully deserved his hat trick of tries.
Speaking after the game Hallett said, “We did some really good stuff out there but made it hard for ourselves by gifting them 18 points in the first half.
“We have a lot of young guys in key positions who are bedding in. In the last five minutes it could have gone either way but we have got our first points of the season and got that monkey off our back.”
After the disappointing opening day loss to Chinnor, Albion gave first league starts to centre Connor Eastlake, hooker Paul Davis and lock Kieran Westlake.
On a pitch that was very hard and short of grass in certain areas, Esher took an early lead when fly half Owen Waters kicked a penalty given for offside.
Plymouth hit back and opened their account when scrum half Cam Setter put wing Jon Dawe over in the corner after his pack recycled quick ball.
Esher regained the lead when Waters kicked his second penalty when Albion were penalised for not rolling away.
Esher stretched their lead when, after Albion won a scrum, Waters intercepted a loose pass and went over in the corner before converting his own score.
Back came Plymouth and, after being held up, they shunted Esher backwards at a 5 metre scrum giving No 8 Stupple the simplest of tries that full back Matt Shepherd converted.
From the restart Albion gave away a soft try when a missed tackle enabled Waters to put centre Chris Arnold over in the corner with a miss pass.
Esher were reduced to 14 when scrum half Jack Walsh was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on in front of his posts.
Albion opted for the scrum and, after the initial drive was held, Stupple notched his second try.
Shepherd was unable to add the extras, which sent Esher in the break leading 18-17.
Esher stretched their lead early in the second half when Waters kicked a third penalty given for offside.
Plymouth took the game to Esher and looked like getting the bonus point try but hooker Paul Davis dropped the ball in the corner after a well worked line out move.
The bonus point was secured in the 70th minute when Stupple powered over for his hat trick score, which Shepherd improved.
Late in the game Stupple was yellow carded for a professional foul but Albion survived a late Esher onslaught to secure an important victory.
Next up for Albion is the visit of Blackheath to Brickfields next Saturday (kick off 3pm).
Esher: L Davies, J Beckett, C Arnold (D Rowland 54), B Strang, C Monks (J Brooks 40 -49), O Waters, J Walsh, M Lowes, D Hope (B Clements 70), C Zeiss (C Leigh69), G Logan (H Collins 40), C Gentles, B Donnell, C Gossington capt, I Moore-Aiono
Tries: Waters, Arnold
Pens: Waters 3
Yellow card: Walsh
Plymouth Albion: M Shepherd, J Gott, D Squire, C Eastgate, J Dawe, F Honey, C Setter (J Snow 62), W Norton (L Chapman 75), P Davis, D Pullinger, D Collier, K Westlake (F Elworthy 75), D Swain, J Kelly, H Stupple capt replacements not used D McGregor, D Powell
Tries: Dawe, Stupple 3
Cons: Shepherd 2
Yellow card: Stupple
Referee: Jack Lewers (RFU)