1st XV Team Manager
Unfortunately, the 1st XV National 3 league fixture at Longton was called off due to the severe weather conditions on Saturday morning and so fittingly, the rugby focus turned to the 2nd XV fixture at Sutton Coldfield, where the pitches were playable and the Sutton 2nd XV/development side took centre stage as they produced an excellent 26-7 victory to cheer the hardy souls, who braved the chill air to witness an enjoyable contest as Sutton triumphed over a Longton 2nd XV, who made a late dash to Sutton once it was confirmed that the game could go ahead.
With good overhead conditions and wet but very playable pitch conditions under foot, Longton kicked off to start a very entertaining and important league fixture, which Sutton eventually won with a convincing score line to secure an all important 5 league points... but along the way there was a keen contest between two well matched sides and Sutton showed strength and maturity to overcome the challenging Longton side, which combined a strong and experienced pack with a young and ambitious back division, who were dangerous on the break testing the Sutton defence and resolve but the home side stayed strong and took their chances with precision.
The essentially young Sutton development side matched their opponents in the scrums and lineouts producing good ball for their eager backs to exploit as they outscored the visitors by 4 tries to 1, with the backs claiming 3 tries but the forwards led the way when skipper for the day, no8 Dean Harper showed his first team credentials as he drove over from close range for the first score after 30 minutes of exciting play. Fullback Danny Bancroft added the conversion to give Sutton a deserved 7-0 lead to put the final flourish to the outstanding teamwork by Sutton in the build up to an excellent, well worked try. The score was just reward for the Sutton effort in the opening 30 minutes, which was mainly dominated by Sutton's presence in the Longton 22 punctuated by the occasional breakout threat by the Longton backs but neither side were able to break the deadlock in the first 25 minutes, although Longton did came close against the run of play when only a dramatic last ditch tackle by a Sutton defender forced the wingers foot into touch as he completed the run to the try line but the flying Longton winger was called back for the lineout.
With halftime approaching Sutton continued to apply sustained pressure and 5 minutes before the break their persistence paid off. Following a 5 metre scrum Sutton extended their lead to 12-0 when scrum half Chris Duckworth picked up from the base of the advancing Sutton scrum and the wily scrum half squirmed over to claim a well taken try.
Unfortunately the conversion drifted wide but Sutton took a deserved 12-0 lead into the break, however the visitors made a positive start to the second period and it was their turn to apply pressure in the Sutton half. 10 minutes into the second half Longton kicked a penalty deep into the Sutton 22 and although Sutton stole the throw by tapping the ball back it was Longton who reacted quickest to reclaim the ball on the floor to set up a charge to the line by their big no5, who crossed under the posts for an easy conversion closing the deficit to 12-7 with 30 minutes to play.
The score acted as a wakeup call for Sutton and they stepped up their play but they missed chances to make the game safe until the 68th minute when centre Joe Gregory took the ball on from a 5 metre scrum to the left of the posts and the centre crossed smartly for a well taken try before repeating the act with an almost identical try on the stroke of fulltime and with fullback Danny Bancroft adding both conversions Sutton closed the game at 26-7.
Sutton 1st XV news/update:
In celebrating the 2nd XV league victory last weekend, all at the SCRFC club also celebrated the return of Sean Harrison to rugby action after the prop/second row 1st XV stalwart and vice captain sustained a neck injury playing for the 1st XV at South Leicester on 6th Dec 2014. The game was stopped as a result of the injury and Sean was airlifted to hospital in Leicester. Although he did break his 'neck' Sean survived the serious scare very well and made a remarkably quick recovery enabling him to resume normal life but he wisely stepped back from playing the game he loved, having to content himself with helping out at the club behind the scenes with training and off the field activities. With Sean out of the game for the whole of 2015 Sutton were deprived of his services on the field and the immense contribution he made to the team either at prop or second row. However, the 60 minutes Sean played this weekend for the 2nd XV, starting in the second row before returning at no8 for the closing period, bodes well for his rehabilitation and eventual return to strengthen the first team when he is ready to step into the senior side.
The postponed 1st XV league fixture and Ladies match against Longton RFC will both be played on Saturday 6th Feb 2016 but in the meantime, in the first competitive use of the new International standard floodlit pitch at the Sutton Coldfield RSG, Walmley Road, the Sutton 1st XV return to league action in a floodlit evening match against Newport (Shropshire) on Friday 22nd Jan 2016 KO 8pm.
There should be a great atmosphere at this inaugural match to show off the excellent new pitch and outstanding floodlights, which are a credit to the SCRFC organising committee led by chairman James Haywood and secretary Simon Yeo but most importantly the SCRFC grounds staff led by Tom Jones ably assisted by Darren 'Doc' Morgan and their team of willing volunteers.