By Alex Dimond
Esher’s Director of Rugby Mike Schmid remains upbeat, despite Saturday’s narrow 13-18 loss against Bedford Blues.
The defeat leaves the Surrey club 13th in the table — eleven points from safety — while Bedford move up to 4th. Schmid believes that the match was even tighter than the scoreline suggests, and hinged on a couple of key moments:
“When we strayed away from the plan, we let ourselves down at key times,” the former Canadian international said. “The difference in the first half was our sin bin [David Millard, for not retreating at a penalty], and they took their try scoring chances. We had two chances, and didn’t take either one.”
Despite being 15-3 down just minutes after half-time, Schmid was encouraged by what he saw in the remainder of the match:
“In the second half we controlled the tempo, and we controlled the game. I think the people that were watching saw a team that was doing everything to win a game.”
Nevertheless, Schmid believes the team has a lot of room for improvement, particularly in attack. “When we get into the opposition third, we have got to come away with more points than we are,” he said.
Schmid made six changes to the side that lost to Doncaster Knights last weekend, and was pleased with what he saw — especially the full debut of prop Ignacio Elosu, and the return on loan of Harlequins winger Seb Stegmann.
“It shows that, in a few positions, we have some real competition,” Schmid said. “Elosu anchored the scrum well, and Stegmann is one of the best finishers we have.”
“When you get close to these top of the table sides, and are extremely disappointed to lose to those sides, I think it shows you the passion and ability that the club and the players have.”
Esher’s attentions now turn to Saturday’s away fixture against the high-flying Exeter Chiefs. The Chiefs currently sit 2nd in the table, and are on an impressive 14-match unbeaten run.
“It’s a difficult match, but we have got to go down there and try and play. Our performances over the last five weeks have been good, but unfortunately we just haven’t been finishing them,” Schmid said.
“That is what we are working very hard to improve upon — execution, decision-making and skills.”
Esher have lost their last 8 matches, but Schmid doesn’t believe it is time to panic just yet:
“We are a very new team, and a very young team — but we have a great team spirit and the will to succeed,” he said. “We are going to give it everything we have.”