Ahead of tomorrow's opening game of the new Midlands 1 West league season, which sees Sutton starting their new campaign away to new comers Camp Hill RFC ko 3pm, the strong Sutton squad and dedicated coaching team can reflect on a highly productive summer, which saw the senior squad grow as new recruits came in to replace those who have left to pursue other challenges with some moving to other clubs and others taking new paths, like last season's skipper Jack Woodcock, who has taken flight on a worldwide adventure.
All will be missed but those remaindering, strengthened by a batch of keen and talented new signings, working under the direction of our new Head Coach Joe Gavin, who now steps up from coaching the very successful Sutton Development side last season to take over the head coaching role for the club, ably assisted by the very experienced forwards coach Alan Keylock, who has worked well with the forwards over recent seasons, sees Sutton moving towards the first game of the new season well prepared and under the leadership on the field of this season's new captain Sean Harrison, the new look team is set right for success.
...and with ex-first team players and Warwickshire Cup winners Dan Lockley and Sandy O'Hare working with the Sutton Senior Colts throughout the summer and into the new season the Sutton players of the future are in good hands.
After the opening weeks of pre-season training, which concentrated initially on fitness levels moving onto skills and tactics, the Sutton team tested their readiness for the coming season by taking on two local high flying teams in competitive warm-up matches. The two teams chosen, Lichfield and Birmingham/Solihull respectively both play their league rugby a league above Sutton in National 3, level 5 and with rolling subs but otherwise under full game conditions, Sutton acquitted themselves well against formidable opposition as described below;
Game 1 15/8/17 Sutton v Lichfield (home).
The evening game was played on the immaculate International pitch at the RSG under floodlights. Both sides held an initial training session before embarking on two 25 minute half's, which ended 5 tries each and an honourable draw.
Using rolling subs Sutton gave valuable game time to 37 players making it a very welcome exercise for both clubs.
The Sutton tries were scored by Harry Moxan, George Ord, Ollie Green, Miles Gregory and Tom Harris.
Game 2 19/8/17 Birm/Solihull v Sutton (away).
A Sutton side consisting of players from all three senior sides travelled across Birmingham to face National 3 big spenders Birmingham Solihull for their second pre-season outing of the week. Against the oppositions full 1st XV Sutton's worthy combination of players gave a good account of themselves despite going down 52-14 in a highly competitive game.
The Sutton tries were scored by Mark McEvoy and Chris Duckworth, both converted by Ben Morgan. Looking at the good points from the Sutton game it would be remiss not to mention the performance of flanker Luke Stewart, who was back playing in his favourite open side wide roaming position and was arguably the game's outstanding player.
Game 3 24/8/17 Sutton club training game.
Sutton's final warm-up game was an interclub event between the probable's and the possible's on the International pitch and also brought into the game a society referee who was able to explain and apply his understanding of the new rules and laws introduced by the RFU for implementation this season, which was very helpful to all concerned as the new season looms large.
Fully prepared and in good spirits the Sutton team are now keen to get the season underway and on Saturday 2nd Sept they travel to old rivals and respected opponents Camp Hill to renew their old rivalry, with both teams seeking to make a wining start to the new season. KO 3pm.
Thanks go to Gerard Shanahan for the match reporting on games 1 and 2 respectively.