Sutton Coldfield Ladies incredible season just goes on and on
On a bitterly cold afternoon in Perry Common they somehow managed to dig out an epic 7-3 victory over local rivals Aston Old Edwardians Ladies and in doing so achieved a remarkable victory treble against their spirited opponents having won the cup clash l
Just like last Sunday it came down to the wire with a try 8 minutes into stoppage time by Emma Clueit proving the difference and extending The Ladies nine match winning streak.
Playing down the pronounced slope Sutton were slow out of the blocks, conceding territory, possession and penalties; one such infringement saw the hosts take a deserved 3-0 lead when full back Rachel Fowkes kicked a penalty goal from in front of the posts. Sutton’s cause wasn’t helped when key player and goal kicker Alison Livermore had to be helped from the field with a hamstring injury. In the reshuffle that followed Charlie Byrne moved to fly half with 18 year old Katie Gregory being introduced into midfield from the bench after the former M&J’s recent return to the Club from Loughborough Lightning.
In a game of frequent stoppages, Sutton slowly began to work their way into the game with captain Charlie Byrne bravely leading from the front having herself suffered a bang to the face in game of many ferocious collisions. Sadly one such unfortunate incident saw left wing Elise Graham have to leave the field with a head injury and a trip to A&E. Thankfully, a later scan has proved clear and she’s now home although facing a few weeks off; eventful day for Elise who got an early flight back from Paris this morning to enable her to line-out.
Versatile Athena Jai had to move from 2nd to the wing to cover Elise’s absence but this, together with the influence of 2nd row partner Genna Pilling and open side flanker Natalie Kennett and the enforced introduction from the bench of Vicky K Sullivan and Liz Fletcher, seemed to galvanise the Sutton girls. With props Nicole Walsh and Abbie Buttery to the fore and hooker Tara Wheeldon playing like a woman possessed it was Sutton that were in the ascendency at the break despite the 3-0 deficit.
The 2nd half mirrored the 2nd half of the cup game last week with Sutton in total control, dominating possession and territory, in fact I don’t think Aston managed at any time to get into our half even though they had the advantage of the slope. That being said, enormous credit must go to the hosts who once again defended brilliantly and so nearly pulled off an upset. Sutton’s cause wasn’t helped when centre Natalie Hall was forced off with another head injury having tried to breakthrough the stubborn Aston defence. With no backs left to call on and deprived of 3 of the starting backline yet another reshuffle saw flanker Nicola Kington, who was having a great game, move to the right wing with flanker Liz Fletcher relieving young Molly Worthington who had given everything at scrum half; full back Christine McEvoy then took a heavy hit which led to Kerrie-Anne Melsom moving to full back whist Christine got her breath back. Mollie Campbell and 17 year old debutant Nafeesah Nabi were the final replacements introduced to the fray as coaches Nathan Burchell, George Ord and Tom Foulsham looked on with no more aces to play.
Backed by a noisy Sutton following, in the 8th minute of added time, and with it seemingly not going to be our day with the hosts continuing to frustrate our efforts to get over the line, young Katie Gregory, who had become a growing influence on the game with her hard running style, made once last charge into the Aston 22 dragging a number of home defenders with her before being agonisingly short when attempting to ground the ball on the line, thankfully though, ever alert No 8 Emma Clueit, who was outstanding all afternoon, was able to gather the loose ball and touch down for the try that would prove decisive in a game of such small margins; Charlie Byrne tapped over the conversion from in front of the posts for us to lead 7-3. A further 3 minutes of stoppage time were played which Sutton were able to comfortably able to see out and secure a victory that sees us remain the only 100% team in the League.
Heart-stopping yes, agonising yes, but when all is said and done you cannot help but admire the resolve of these Sutton girls who simply refused to be beaten. I’ve tried to mention them all because it was a real ‘team’ effort but we’ve got some great leaders within the squad who set a great example, none more so than much respected captain Charlie Byrne who would have been deserving of the bottle of champagne if only there had been one to present..!!