SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Warwickshire Cup Final
After producing an outstanding performance in a dramatic and highly entertaining Warwickshire Cup Final, against the odds Sutton 1st XV were within seconds of securing a fifth Warwickshire Cup Final win since their first victory in 1996 but unfortunately in 2017 fate intervened and with Sutton leading 28-24 going into the last play of the close fought contest, under heavy pressure on their try line Sutton suffered a yellow card and then Nuneaton secured a 29-28 last gasp victory with a pushover try from the resulting 5 metre scrum, having an advantage in the pack of 7 against 8, to deny Sutton the victory their highly charged performance deserved.
However, having produced such a great performance for the Cup game, if Sutton can now inject that level of performance into the remaining matches of their league campaign then safety in this league will be assured.
In the game itself Sutton were up against National 3 opposition in the form of old and respected rivals Nuneaton, who have not been without their own problems this season and the win was important to both clubs as a boost to their respective seasons. So with Sutton recognised as the underdogs the game kicked off in cold but pleasant conditions at the very suitable Coventry RFC, Butts Park Stadium and it was Nuneaton who were first to impress as they took the kick off then followed up to launch an attack down the middle before swinging the ball wide to create an overlap for winger Adam Stauvers to race into the corner for the opening try after just 2 minutes of play. To impress still further fly half Tyler Price added the difficult touchline conversion to give Nuneaton an ominous 7-0 lead so early in the game.
Undaunted, from the restart Sutton took the game to Nuns and after sustained pressure in the Nuns half they created a scoring chance when they attacked at pace through the centre but unfortunately a chip ahead rolled dead before it could be grounded. However, Sutton were still on the attack and as they received the drop out in mid field Nuneaton were penalised for not releasing as they fought to recover the ball just outside their 22. Sutton's captain and fly half Ben Morgan stepped forward to land the penalty putting Sutton on the scoreboard at 7-3 after 12 minutes of play.
The pace of the game stepped up with Sutton very much in contention and midway through the first half an excellent passage of play saw Sutton score in the right corner. The score came after Sutton missed a penalty chance with the ball just drifting wide but Sutton received the resulting drop out cleanly in mid field and moved the ball to the right driving down the right flank deep into the Nuns 22 before transferring the ball to right wing Chris Duckworth (Ducky), who drove over for Sutton's first try. Ben Morgan landed the difficult conversion to give Sutton the lead at 10-7 after 20 minutes of play. Again Sutton continued to apply pressure in the Nuneaton half and 25 minutes into the game the Sutton pressure led to the first yellow card of the day against the Nuns fullback for infringing at a Sutton attack in front of the posts. Unfortunately Sutton opted for the scrum in front of the posts but Nuns were up for it and they denied Sutton clearing their lines taking play away from danger but 5 minutes later Sutton made amends when Nuns were penalised again 30 metres out and Ben Morgan made no mistake as he extended the Sutton lead to 13-7 with 10 minutes to play to the break.
Nuneaton restarted and drove play back into the Sutton half but although Sutton defended well and recovered the ball a box kick from just outside the Sutton 22 was taken by Nuns in space on their right wing. The ball was runback at pace towards the Sutton 22 in midfield but as Sutton strived to stop the attack they were penalised for a high tackle and fly half Tyler Price landed the penalty to close the arrears to 13-10, with half time approaching.
Nuneaton made a strong start to the second half but Sutton defended well and cleared their lines with an excellent counter attack and kick into space on the Nuneaton right wing deep in the Nuns half. Sutton followed up quickly to secure the ball and then unfolded an excellent passage of interplay, which saw the ball transferred from the Sutton left wing across the field onto the right wing where space opened up for Sutton's fullback Tom Burrows, who cut inside and raced in for a spectacular try, which was converted by Ben Morgan to extend Sutton's lead to 20-10 with just 5 minutes of the second half played.
Unfortunately 5 minutes later fate turned against Sutton when they were defending a scrum 5 metres from their try line on the Nuns left wing and the referee judged that Sutton had infringed at the scrum handing a yellow card to Sutton and a penalty try to Nuneaton, bringing the scores back to 20-17, keeping the game a very tight contest, with 30 minutes to play.
The close game continued apace with a series of storming runs in turn by Sutton's 2nd row Jamie Willetts and back row Peter Meachin respectively, who maintained Sutton's attacking menace throughout the game and then midway through the second half Nuns suffered their second yellow card for not retiring at a tap penalty preventing Sutton reaching the try line but Sutton gained nothing from the event and in fact Nuneaton cleared their line then set up an opening for fullback Jackson Hughes, who caught Sutton out of position and the fullback raced in over 40 metres to score under the posts very much against the run of play.
Tyler Price added the easy conversion and the lead reverted to Nuneaton at 24-20, with 22 minutes of the second half played.
Minutes later in the all action game Ben Morgan reduced the arrears to 24-23 with a well struck 40 metre penalty and then winger Chris Duckworth raced in to score in the right corner for his second try of the day after excellent approach work by the Sutton players with quick passing moving the ball from left to right, after a break in midfield by prop David Smith, who broke free and raced up to the Nuneaton 22 to set up the swift passing movement which led to the try. Unfortunately the difficult conversion drifted wide but the score allowed Sutton to retake the lead at 28-24 with 2 minutes left to play setting up a dramatic climax to an already excellent Cup Final.
With time running out Nuneaton followed up their restart kick, which travelled deep into the Sutton 22 and the marauding Nuns pack drove play towards the Sutton try line close to the posts. Sutton defended strongly to hold up the forward surge but they were judged to be guilty of an infringement at the breakdown and they received a yellow card reducing their pack to 7 men. Play restarted with a 5 metre scrum to Nuneaton, who with a man advantage drove Sutton back over the try line to claim the winning try, credited to Will Messun and although the conversion was missed Nuneaton secured the Warwickshire Cup for 2017/18 with a 29-28 last gasp victory to show how cruel the sporting gods can be after a truly entertaining Cup Final, which was credit to both teams and their respective clubs and supporters.
On a day when every man in the 22 man Sutton squad was a hero, particular mention must be made of Dean Harper, who this season was trying to step down from playing to concentrate on coaching but injuries to key players meant, when called on he has responded time after time by returning to the field in the second row or back row providing his outstanding skills, driving force and commitment to strengthen the Sutton pack when injury denied them the services of younger players. So thanks go to Dean... But with many of the Sutton front row options struck down by injury, special thanks also go to prop David Smith, who, although he is hovering somewhere between 40 and 50 years old, is still an outstanding prop and has given formidable service to Sutton over many seasons first in the 1st XV and then more recently in the 2nd XV passing on his valuable experience to the younger players in the 2nd XV/Development Side. Dave is also Sutton's Cup Final specialist having appeared in around 10 cup finals over the years and on Sunday he excelled himself with a tireless performance not only in the set play but also with his powerful runs in open play.
Although disappointed at losing the game in the dying seconds by such a narrow margin, to a man the Sutton squad took heart from their performance and each man determined to take this form and commitment on into their league campaign. Sutton can now use this disappointment to drive them on to overcome their many injury problems and setbacks this season and continue the fight to secure their place in Midlands 1 West, Level 6 next season.
The fight back starts this weekend with the visit of old friends and respected rivals Wolverhampton RFC to the RSG, Walmley Road for what should be another highly entertaining contest. All support welcome. KO 2.15 pm.
Sutton other team results:
by Gerard Shanahan
Sutton Coldfield Women 57 pts v Coventry Welsh 0 pts;
Table topping Sutton Coldfield Women took a break from league rugby but continued their successful season last weekend with a 57-0 victory against Coventry Welsh in round 1 of the Junior cup.
An amazing game played by both teams! Credit to Coventry Welsh as they battled superbly and never stopped competing!
Charlie Byrne opened up the scoring with powerful back play, crashing through a gap in the defence to score. Con Byrne. Byrne then caught Coventry’s kick off this time outpacing the defence out wide to score in the corner.
Jessica Nally added to the first half tally, dummying the defender on the half way line before running in for the try under the posts. Con Alison Livermore. Kerri-anne Melsom also got on the score sheet off the back of a break by Alison Livermore, finding Melsom who battled past the last defenders to score on the wing.
Athena Jai added the final score of the half after a spectacular individual effort, picking the ball from the base of the scrum in Sutton's own 22 before an unstoppable run down the blindside. Con Livermore.
The second half saw further tries added to Sutton’s tally. Nally added a second, picking from the base of a Sutton scrum before crashing over the line. The Wheeldon sisters combined to add the next, an evading run by Holly split the defence before she managed to offload to Tara who dived over the line. Con Holly Wheeldon.
Another brilliant individual effort by centre Natalie Hall who went on a blinding run to score from her own half. Con Livermore. Byrne rounded off the score completing her hat-rick after stepping through a gap in the defence to score. Con Livermore.
Players of the match:
Coaches pick: Sammi Allwood for an amazing performance at scrum-half
Coventry’s pick: Charlie Byrne for a strong performance
Sutton’s next league game is away against Birmingham Exiles on 3rd December, when they protect their top of the table status.
Sutton Colts 34 pts v Stourbridge Colts 33 pts;
Sutton Colts welcomed Stourbridge to the RSG this week in what was built up as a must win League game for the lads. Stourbridge arrived with only 12 players, conceded the League fixture but still wanted a run out so it ended up being 12 vs 13 with uncontested scrums, which totally threw out our preparation and Sutton switched off. All credit to the Stourbridge lads who played some very simple, but hard running rugby taking the lead after 5 mins through some very questionable Sutton defence. The boys in green soon bounced back, played some rugby and started running in a few tries, due to the lack of numbers on the field the game was played with rolling subs. It was good to see some new faces but didn't help the consistency.
The game was played out and the Sutton lads scraped a 34-33 victory with tries coming from Jack Wells (3) (needs to buy a jug!), Harry Moxon (2) and Sam Grimshaw with Harry Wheelwright. adding 2 conversions.
Next game is scheduled in the National Colts Cup away at Lutterworth next Saturday 25th November, 14:15 KO.