Match report - 27th Feb 2016
By Ken Sims
Sutton Coldfield 28 pts v Peterborough Lions 60 pts
SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Match report - 27th Feb 2016
Sutton Coldfield 28 pts v Peterborough Lions 60 pts
National League 3 Midlands
In spite of another spirited performance in which they scored 4 converted tries to earn a try scoring bonus point, unfortunately, Sutton's sinking ship took on more water when they were on the wrong end of a scoreboard that showed a total of 88 points.
During a highly entertaining and competitive game Sutton scored 28 points against mid table opponents Peterborough Lions, who scored 60 points, pushing Sutton ever closer to the drop.
Again injuries and availability were serious issues for the Sutton coaches in the build up to the game, with the selection of props in the front row a particular problem. With new player registration for the 2015/16 season, closing on the 29th Feb 2016, the current Sutton player registration list was considered closely and long serving iconic prop Michael (Nobby) Brittain, who first played for the Sutton 1st XV in the 1970's and is still registered, was approached to make a cameo appearance in his 50th year but altho ugh he is fit and was keen to help the Sutton cause, unfortunately the living legend had a prior commitment in London and reluctantly had to turn down the request.
However, an equally iconic first team prop from the 2000's Dave Smith (44 years old), who has been playing regular 2nd and 3rd team rugby over recent seasons responded to the SOS call. The veteran prop and respected headmaster has helped guide the young Sutton talent in the Development side to success in recent Warwickshire 2nd team cup finals and he responded to the SOS from the 1st XV last weekend to add strength and experience to the Sutton front row along with skipper Chris Hanley (30), who is making a tentative return to first team action after injury but after a long lay-off he is still building his match fitness and Saturday was another severe test. In contrast, 19 year old hooker Danny Griffin found himself sandwiched between the two experienced props in a new look Sutton front row that held its own against strong opposition in a difficult game.
Continuing the theme of having to reintroduce experienced players alongside the young core talent of the current first team squad due to injuries and availability, 37 year old Ben Bottomley has added his skill and experience to the back row and at the lineout over recent weeks alongside 24 year olds Jonny Ursell (7) and Jack Woodcock (8) plus 21 year old Rhoss Price, who last weekend provided cover for the back row from the bench, although carrying a shoulder injury himself.
As to the game itself, Peterborough Lions kicked off in good but dull conditions with a firm pitch underfoot, however the initial signs were ominous for the home side when from the start, Peterborough drove play deep into the Sutton 22 and then disrupted a Sutton scrum on their own try line and prop Ben Howard squeezed over in the corner for an early try giving the visitors a 5-0 lead just 4 minutes into the game.
Sutton responded well to the setback and learning from their failure at the initial scrum the Sutton pack matched their opponents in all the subsequent forward exchanges winning good ball, which their lively backs used effectively setting up strong attacking positions. 10 minutes into the game Sutton won turnover ball at a scrum on their left wing, inside the Lions half and immediately set up a sweeping attack, smartly moving play across the field before the ball was delivered into the hands of Ollie Chitnis, who still had work to do but demonstrated his outstanding finishing skills by finding a gap in the defensive line to score a fine try, which was expertly converted from wide on the right by centre Alex White to give Sutton a deserved 7-5 lead.
Sutton continued to play well until midway through the first half when the home side were penalised for playing the player without the ball and the subsequent penalty was kicked into touch 5 metres from the Sutton line. Peterborough won the ensuing lineout and drove towards the Sutton try line, however Sutton held up the initial drive but were then penalised again at the second drive. The Lions opted for a 5 metre scrum and although Sutton again held firm against the forward drive no8 Tom Lewis picked up at the base of the scrum and dived over for a well taken try to restore the visitors lead at 10-7.
The second and third quarter of the game went emphatically to the Lions as they capitalised on Sutton mistakes and handling errors to run in three tries plus a conversion in the period leading up to the break to lead 27-7... and then in the third quarter of the game after the break, the visitors scored 4 more tries plus 3 conversions to lead 53-7 going into the final 20 minutes.
The trio of tries leading up to the break were credited to winger Kaz Henderson, followed by fullback Will Carrington, who was the beneficiary when a Sutton knock-on in the Sutton 22 fell into Peterborough hands and they raced in for the try, before Kaz Henderson scored the final try of the first half, which was converted by Will Carrington on the stroke of halftime.
Peterborough continued their scoring spree, when second row Pete Kalwinsky ran back a misplaced clearance kick by Sutton to score a try just 4 minutes after the restart, then ultra mobile prop Ben Howard charged to the line to claim his second try of the day after 15 minutes of play before George Offer ran back another Sutton kick which failed to find touch and compounded by missed tackles the Lions claimed their third try with just 18 minutes of the second half played. Maintaining their dominance of the scoring if not the play midway through the second half Peterborough added a 9th try when prop Ben Howard completed his hat-trick after a chip ahead by Peterborough kindly bounced back into the hands of the attacking player to set up the score. Fullback Will Carrington converted three of the second half tries to give Peterborough a commanding 53-7 lead with 20 minutes to play.
Faced with a daunting score line but showing great spirit and character, Sutton stepped up their game and with enterprise and fluency a quickly taken lineout set up a darting run by Ollie Chitnis, who raced through the Peterborough midfield defence to score a well taken try, which was converted by centre Alex White to bring Sutton back to 14-53 with 18 minutes to play. Encouraged by the score, Sutton continued to press forward and after taking the ball up field following the restart a powerful charge by second row George Ord in the Peterborough 22 was rewarded with an excellent try under the posts giving Alex White a simple conversion to close to 21-53 just 3 minutes later.
At this point the Sutton recovery appeared to have stalled as the Peterborough Lions struck back with a try for Chris Humphery, converted by Will Carrington to stretch the lead to 60-21 with 5 minutes to play, when the ball was lost on the Sutton 22 and run back to score... but at the death, Sutton had the final word when winger Martin Browning drove over in the left corner for the final try to secure a well deserved bonus point for the team, after Sutton recycled the ball from successive scrums on the Peterborough try line before spreading the ball wide for the young winger to complete an excellent score and land his first try for the 1st XV after his recent impressive performances as a first choice winger.
The try was matched if not surpassed by the excellent touchline conversion by Alex white, who landed 4 out of 4 conversions in a flawless kicking display to produce a final score line of 60-28 including a deserved try scoring bonus point for the long suffering Sutton side.
This weekend Sutton travel up the M6 to enjoy the Northern hospitality offered by Sandbach RFC to continue their league campaign with just 5 league games remaining before looking to salvage something from the season by beating Newbold RFC in the Warwickshire Cup Final on Sunday 24th April 2016. Venue yet to be confirmed by the Warwickshire Competitions committee.