1st XV Manager
Longton RFC 22pts v Sutton Coldfield 14pts
After a strong and encouraging finish to the year with an excellent 20-0 victory over 5th placed Hereford in the last league game of 2018, which moved Sutton up to 7th place going into the Christmas break, unfortunately Sutton 1st XV failed to carry their improved form into the first game of 2019 when they suffered another surprise defeat against a lower placed team, losing 22-14 to a resurgent Longton side, who are fighting hard for survival in this league as even after the Sutton victory, they still languish in the relegation zone.
The final result was even more surprising considering the fact that Sutton made a storming start to the game continuing where they left off in 2018 as they swept into a 14-0 lead with two excellent converted tries in the first 20 minutes but as Sutton visibly switched off, losing focus and concentration, the beleaguered home side stepped up their game scoring two quick fire tries in two minutes of play, with one converted to close the score to 12-14 with 33 minutes played. The change of fortunes seemed to stun the Sutton side and five minutes later they conceded a third try to the revitalised Longton side to trail 17-14 going into the break.
In the time remaining Sutton recovered well to end the half on the front foot but typically a promising attack down their left wing ended when what was intended to be the final long ball scoring pass was wayward and flew directly into touch just short of the try line.
Sutton started the second half strongly but they never recovered the fluency they showed in the first quarter and the play would not run for them as they looked to erase the narrow 3 point deficit but in spite of going a man down to a yellow card in the 12th minute of the second half it was the home side, spurred on by their enthusiastic supporters, who made the decisive score when their burley fly half raced down the left wing to score in the left corner stretching the lead to 22-14 with 21 minutes left to play.
Try as they may with plenty of possession, Sutton were unable to make the possession count and in the closing moments with so much at stake for both sides, the game became a bad tempered affair with both teams receiving 2 consecutive yellow cards each within two minutes of each other as tensions flared up, which was unfortunate as apart from a dangerous boot to the head of fullback Ollie Green whilst the player was on the ground, which grazed the young players ear and could have caused serious damage early in the game but bravely the full back played on after treatment and made a significant contribution to the Sutton effort. Considering the importance of the result for the aspirations of both sides the remainder of the game was played out in a competitive spirit with the home side wrenching the initiative from the visitors after Sutton's confident opening.
On the plus side for Sutton the game marked the welcome return to 1st XV action of 2nd row powerhouse Jamie Willetts, who made a positive contribution after many months on the side lines and he slotted right back into the team, who made a confident start to the game as they kicked off in dry, cold conditions on a good playing surface and took the play straight to their opponents winning two long range early penalties, which drifted wide but kept the pressure on the Longton team and 9 minutes into the game a break by open side flanker Peter Meachin took play down the Sutton left into the Longton 22. The ball was quickly recycled moving from left to right and quick thinking left wing George Creed raced over from the left wing following the ball to join the line making the extra man to put right wing Tom Burrows in for an excellent try to the right of the posts.
Fly half Ben Morgan added the conversion to give Sutton a deserved 7-0 lead and from the restart the visitors continued to dominate play with the scrums and lineouts going well producing good ball for the backs to develop the attacking play and on 17 minutes the ball went to ground on the Sutton right but right wing Tom Burrows quickly recovered the ball and sent it in field setting up another attack led by the Sutton pack to take play to the edge of the Longton 22. As the Sutton pack drove forward no8 George Ord broke from the drive and raced to the try line on a 20 meter loop to score to the left of the posts. Again Ben Morgan struck a clean conversion and Sutton approached the 20 minute mark with a comfortable 14-0 lead.
However, that was as good as it got for Sutton, who underestimated the strength and determination of their battling opponents as the Longton side battled their way back into the game starting on the 31 minute mark when Longton ran the ball down their right wing before switching play infield moving from right to left to create an overlap for fullback Sam Evans to exploit as he raced in to the left of the posts to close to 5-14.
The conversion was missed but straight from the restart a loose ball came back to the Longton left wing Marc Doughty standing unmarked on the 10 metre line and the deceptively fast, burly winger raced down his left touchline to score to the left of the posts for fly half Scott Rawlings to add the conversion reducing the Sutton lead to 2 points with 33 minutes played.
The turnaround clearly revived the home team & their supporters but unfortunately Sutton failed to find the composure to reassert their early dominance and it was Longton, who went further ahead on 38 minutes, when their no8 Mikey Allen gathered the ball from a lineout catch and drive following a penalty kicked into the right corner taking the home side into a narrow 17-14 lead, which they held onto into the break.
Again Sutton tried to reassert themselves at the start of the second half but despite some good individual play the team play would not flow and with his side reduced to 14 men after a yellow card infringement, the Longton fly half Scott Rawlings found himself in space in the Sutton half 19 minutes into the second half and he raced down the left touchline for the decisive score in the left corner extending the lead to the winning margin of 22-14.
The result drops Sutton from 7th to 9th in a close bunched middle table, which includes 6 teams from 5th to 10th with 7 wins to-date and this weekend Sutton need to shake off the after effects of Christmas and New Year to return to top form as they welcome Malvern RFC for another difficult bottom of the table clash at the RSG. KO 2.15pm all support welcome for good rugby and New Year hospitality.
Match report 2
Sutton Development Side 22pts v Camp Hill RFC 26pts
Midlands Reserve League - Division 2
The Sutton Development Side playing as a 2nd XV in the Midlands Reserve League started 2019 with a narrow home defeat against a strong Camp Hill 2nd XV.
Trailing 12-19 at the break Sutton produced a spirited second half recovery to match their opponents with 4 tries each overall and they only lost on successful conversions, 1 to Sutton and 3 to Camp Hill, so well done the Sutton Side - a valiant effort.
The Sutton try scorers were Luke Hennessy, Alex Roberts, Chris Duckworth and Sam Grimshaw, who scored a try to mark his welcome return to Sutton colours.
Faced with a shortage of backs, student Kieran Henderson switched from his normal choice of back row/second row to take on the pivotal role of fly half, which he executed well landing the only conversion that Sutton gained - so well done Kieran.