Match report - 22nd Sept 2018
By Ken Sims
Malvern RFC 13pts v Sutton Coldfield 24pts
SCRFC 1st Xv Team Manager
Malvern RFC 13pts v Sutton Coldfield 24pts
Sutton 1st XV travelled to Malvern RFC last weekend looking to continue their impressive winning run and the players, coaches and travelling supporters enjoyed another Smiling Saturday with a celebratory coach journey home, after they overcame the steady drizzle and a spirited fight back by the home side in the closing period of another highly entertaining contest to record a 24-13 bonus point victory over their newly promoted hosts.
Due to the mixed fortunes of the two clubs and the restructuring of the leagues over recent seasons it has been a number of years since Sutton last made the trip to Spring Lane, Malvern to face a Malvern XV in a league competition. With hazy memories of games dating back to 2009/10, last weekend it was a reinvigorated Sutton 1st XV who journeyed down the M5 into Worcestershire looking to continue their winning form...and so it proved with their newly established power plant of Josh Bailey at 4, Lewis Snowden at 5 and Jack Ward at 6 at the heart of the Sutton pack, adding strength and stability behind the front row of Captain Sean Harrison (1), Dean Ginn (2) and Liam Hills (3) with Steve Crane proving to be a reliable and worthy front row replacement, making the Sutton pack a formidable force to match any in the league.
With the Sutton pack now consistently providing good ball from the forward set plays and with the quality of the remaining back row players of Rhoss Price at 7 and Luke Stewart at 8 in defence and attack, Sutton are playing on the front foot and they are able to release their strong back line to devastating effect with last seasons top try scorer Tom Burrows at wing then fullback, adding another brace of tries to his total for this season, with replacement winger Chris Duckworth celebrating his return to 1st XV duties with a well taken opening try and flanker Jack Ward adding to his try total for the season as he powered over for Sutton's bonus point try.
After heavy rain earlier in the morning the game kicked off in a steady drizzle on a decent playing surface, which had been softened by the rain but still provided a firm footing as both sides looked to run the ball. Sutton kicked off taking play deep into the Malvern 22 but all the early pressure by the visitors counted for nothing when Ben King kicked the hosts in front after 8 minutes following a ruck infringement.
Unperturbed by this setback Sutton continued to press but were dealt a blow at the midway point of the first half when influential outside centre Paul Spiby took a heavy knock to the head that forced him from the field; however, with Chris Duckworth coming off the bench onto the right wing and full back Joel James moving into the centre, right wing Tom Burrows moved to full back and the rearranged backline had an immediate impact when after 24 minutes the replacement wing Chris Duckworth marked his return to 1st XV action as he squeezed in at the corner after a superb driving maul by the pack to give the visitors a 5-3 lead with the slippery conversion falling short.
The Sutton set piece was working well allowing the backs plenty of ball to show their paces and after 33 minutes their reward came when Tom Burrows backed himself on the outside to score a great try in the right corner, which fly half Ben Morgan expertly converted to extend the lead to 12-3.
The hosts rarely threatened the Sutton line but they did reduce the deficit on 37 minutes when King kicked his 2nd penalty goal of the day to leave the interval score at 12-6.
Playing up the slope in the 2nd half Sutton continued to dominate with their aggressive defence denying Malvern any worthwhile possession whilst the new midfield pairing of Jacob Jones and Joel James offered a real attacking threat. That said it was the set piece that was killing the hosts with the Sutton front five all outstanding, none more so than hooker Dean Ginn, who was having the game of his life. Lineout steals by Lewis Snowden and Josh Bailey frustrated the home side and kept the boys in green on the front foot.
After a period of intense Sutton pressure and numerous infringements by the hosts it was again the pace and confidence of Burrows on 49 minutes that saw him race outside a flailing backline to score a perfect try in the right corner registering his 2nd try of the afternoon and his 4th of the campaign to date extending the lead to 17-6 as the difficult touchline conversion was missed.
Sutton continued to pin the hosts back and the inevitable bonus point 4th try duly arrived after 59 minutes when following a Luke Stewart offload Jack Ward crashed over under the posts for his 4th try of the season, which Morgan converted to push the lead out to 24-6.
Unfortunately no8 stalwart Luke Stewart took a heavy knock moments later and after a lengthy delay had to be helped from the field with an injury to his neck to be replaced by Sam Harris, who was making his first appearance in over a year having missed all last season with injury.
With Sutton in control captain Sean Harrison almost sealed the deal when he intercepted a pass on the Malvern 10 metre line and headed for glory only to be cruelly denied a memorable score when the referee called play back for a rather harsh offside call. With nothing left in the tank the captain ‘exited stage left’ to be replaced at loose head by Steve Crane. Sutton’s other prop Liam Hills was having an outstanding game tormenting the hosts at scrum time as well as being a potent weapon in the loose play, a great asset to the team.
To their great credit Malvern kept going and stepped up their game in the closing period to be rewarded with a consolation try in the right corner by John Wills after 77 minutes, which King expertly converted to leave the final score 24-13 to Sutton, who were able to claim their first ever win over Malvern at the 4th attempt since the outset of the league structure back in 1987/88.
Sutton will be looking to make it 4 wins in a row when they entertain Moseley Oak on Friday evening at the RSG, Walmley Road, in a floodlit match on the 'International' pitch kick off 7.30pm. All support welcome for what will be a great night of rugby & socialising.
Team: Sean Harrison(Capt), Dean Ginn, Liam Hills, Josh Bailey, Lewis Snowden, Jack Ward, Rhoss Price, Luke Stewart, Ollie Green, Ben Morgan, Jack Wells, Jacob Jones, Paul Spiby, Tom Burrows, Joel James. Subs(used): Chris Duckworth, Steve Crane, Sam Harris.
Sutton Development side:
Last weekend the Sutton Development side faced a strong Lichfield 2nd XV and in spite of a spirited performance the Sutton side went down by 45pts to 20pts.
Tries by Chris Bancroft, Glen Corkin and T J Allwood plus a conversion and a penalty by Allwood restored some pride to the Sutton side, who battled bravely on a day that was destined not to be their day. All credit to a useful Lichfield side.