Picture: Jonah Falconer scores Sutton's only try.
SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Droitwich RFC 14pts v Sutton Coldfield 10pts
Sutton's recent dip in form stretched into a fourth consecutive week last weekend, when again the game was lost in just 2 minutes early in the first half; two mistakes by Sutton in the form of missed tackles in midfield both close to a breakdown led directly to two breakaway tries, both converted for a 14-0 deficit halfway through the first half... otherwise Sutton played well, dominating the scrums with good lineout play securing attacking ball for the backs to run but the Droitwich defence was very effective and it was at the breakdown that Sutton suffered most with their energetic opponents showing more urgency and precision to produce good turnover ball for the home side time and time again, denying Sutton possession and scoring opportunities. In spite of a spirited fight back in the second half Sutton were restricted to a penalty and a converted try by their newly promoted hosts, to score just 10 points, which secured the consolation of another losing bonus point in a disappointing 14-10 defeat.
At this the midpoint in the season Sutton sit 7th out of 14 teams in the league table, having played 13 games with 6 wins and 7 loses plus 8 bonus points to their credit but with the start of the return legs coming up this weekend the ambitious Sutton team will be looking to end this dip in form and return to winning ways starting the second half of the season with a winning run from this weekend.
In the game Sutton kicked off in dry conditions, after recent rain, facing bright Autumn sunshine and a strong gusting wind blowing down the field into their faces but Sutton made a strong start attacking the Droitwich tryline with the ball going wide to top try scorer Tom Burrows in the opening minutes so the winger could test the Droitwich defence early on.
The Droitwich defence held out against the early onslaught and following the opening sorte in the Droitwich 22 the home side cleared the ball deep into the Sutton half. The fired up Droitwich side, who had enjoyed successive seasons losing only one game in the two previous seasons to gain promotion to Midlands 1 West, were now finding their feet at this higher level of rugby and were determined to prove themselves capable of surviving at this level and worthy of a higher place than the 11th place they currently occupy in the table, setting about their task with a real sense of purpose.
17 minutes into the game the host club claimed the ball from a breakdown on the Droitwich left in the Sutton half and centre Matt Handford broke through the Sutton defence to race to the try line to claim the opening try. Fly half Chris Hooper added the wind assisted conversion to give the home side a surprising 7-0 lead and just 2 minutes later following the restart hooker Matt Tranter burst through to score to the left of the posts and again Chris Hooper struck home the conversion to give Droitwich an impressive 14-0 lead after 19 minutes of play, giving Sutton a mountain to climb.
Sutton responded well to the challenge and put together some good phases of play but unfortunately they were let down too often by basic errors, forcing a pass under pressure with loose off loads going to ground and the ball invariably being turned over by their very efficient opponents, who worked well at the breakdown.
The score stayed at 14-0 into the start of the second half and although Sutton came close on a number of occasions at the start of the second period they were unable get over the try line and the one time they did cross the line following a kick through, the ball spun to the right and went dead in goal before the pursuing winger Tom Borrows could ground it.
However, 20 minutes into the second half Sutton's sustained pressure in the Droitwich half led to a penalty against the host club for not releasing and fly half Ben Morgan opened the Sutton account with the 25 metre kick to bring the score to 14-3 then 7 minutes later as Sutton continued to run at the Droitwich defence, a typical break down the right wing by winger Tom Burrows took play into the Droitwich half. Cutting infield on the 22 the winger found flanker Jonah Falconer in support and the powerful no6 took the slip pass and raced in to score an excellent try under the posts. Ben Morgan added the conversion to setup a dramatic finale to the game with a scoreline of 14-10 and just 13 minutes left to play.
Sutton threw everything they had into the final minutes of the game but once again the Droitwich defence prevailed and Sutton had to settle for a losing bonus point, which at least kept them in 7th spot one place above Stourbridge Lions on 32 points.
In the plus column for Sutton; the game saw the welcome return to 1st XV action of second row powerhouse George Ord after a long absence due to injury along with the return of flanker Mike Burns and centre Joel James, who all made a significant impact to the team effort on their return.
This weekend Sutton start the round of return legs when they welcome old friends and rivals Hereford RFC to the RSG, Walmley Road for their home leg having won the away leg 21-18 in a close run affair against a very good Hereford side. One would expect this weekends game to be equally as competitive and entertaining as previous games between the two clubs over many seasons. KO 2.15pm