CHINNOR staged a brilliant comeback to beat Esher 17-14 in an absorbing adapted laws contest at Molesey Road.

The Thame-based side dug deep in Surrey to overturn a 14-point deficit and take an important step forward in their preparations for the 2021/22 season.

It marked a noticeable improvement to the previous weekend’s 33-0 defeat to the same opponents, ahead of two tough friendlies against Rams over the next pair of weekends.

One third of Chinnor’s 29-man squad had either come through the club’s youth section or previously played for the reserve sides, with four – Seb Scott, George Grose, Jon Lavin and Alex Cornish – in the starting XV.

Meanwhile, Ben Manning began the match at blindside flanker to make his first appearance since returning to the club.

Esher were on top in the opening 20-minute period as they looked to pick up where they left off the previous weekend.

Nick Smith held up a certain try early on, but the hosts eventually broke through Chinnor’s defensive line.

A 16th-minute try was followed by another straight after the restart, with two conversions giving Esher a 14-0 lead.

The visitors dug deep, though, and deservedly got on the scoreboard trialist flanker Max Heathman drove over, Nick Smith adding the extras to halve the deficit.

The home side were in the ascendancy and they almost further reduced the arrears when Ryan Lomas was stopped short.

The first ten minutes of the final period turned into an arm-wrestle in the middle of the pitch and Chinnor won that particular battle, allowing them to go on and win the game late on.

A sweeping move out to the right saw Ollie Smith power over for an unconverted try and just moments later Nick Smith brilliantly intercepted a pass on half-way and outpaced the chasing Esher players to make it 17-14.

The visitors then comfortably saw out the final minutes of the contest to record a confidence-boosting triumph.

Chinnor continue their friendly programme with a visit to National League 1 rivals Rams on Saturday, with the return fixture at Kingsey Road on May 29.

MAX Heathman’s try-scoring display against Esher has earned him a Chinnor contract.

The back-row forward impressed as a trialist in Saturday’s 17-14 victory in Surrey, producing a combative performance and driving over in the comeback win.

Heathman, who joins from Chinnor’s National League 1 rivals Taunton Titans, said: “I’ve joined Chinnor because they have a great set-up and have the right people in the right places, with aspirations to push the club to higher levels and I want to be a part of that.

“I want to help Chinnor gain promotion and, on a personal level, push as far as I can within the game.”

Chinnor director of rugby, Richard Thorpe added: “Max is a naturally physical openside flanker, who has already impressed with his carrying and tackling ability.

“A specialist openside is always a desirable asset in a squad.

“Max’s hunger, work ethic and destructiveness on the field will not go unnoticed next season as we step back into full competitive games.”