Picture - Will Smewin scores Sutton's third try to give them the lead in a tight game.
1st XV Manager
In their latest league outing under floodlights at the Moseley Oak Stadium, Billesley; the game broke down into three parts with Sutton struggling to take control in the first half and after suffering a long range interception try under the posts just before the break the home side carried a 12-0 lead into the second half... but Sutton came alive after the break and within 8 minutes they had closed to 12-10 with 2 excellent tries before taking the lead at 15-12 with 7 minutes to play...however, in the closing part of the game it was the beleaguered Moseley Oak side, who to their great credit showed true spirit and determination to force their way over the try line for a match winning converted try under the posts on the final whistle to defy their lowly league position and secure a much needed win and 4 points towards their survival, whilst Sutton had to settle for a losing bonus point, which kept them in 8th place after an enthralling rugby match played in gently swirling snow.
Sutton kicked off with the light snow just starting to fall under the bright floodlights and they drove play deep into the Moseley half but a knock on in the Oak 22 handed the initiative to the home side, who took play back into the Sutton half. Sutton dominated the scrums from the outset and the only way the Moseley Oak scrum half could combat the Sutton dominance on his own put in was to feed the ball into his retreating back row, which was not picked up by the referee. However, the game ebbed and flowed between the 22 metre lines during the first quarter with neither side taking control until 25 minutes into the game Moseley Oak drove for the tryline but Sutton held them up and from the ensuing 5 metre scrum Sutton managed to get the ball away. However, Moseley kept the pressure in the Sutton half and when a Sutton clearance missed touch on the Moseley left wing the ball was gathered in and a counterattack set up taking play back into the Sutton 22, when the ball was switched from left to right and outside centre John Davetanivalu (JD) forced his way over the try line to the right of the posts for the opening try after 28 minutes play.
The conversion attempt hit the post and bounced back so the home side led 5-0 after the opening period of play but following the restart Sutton came back strongly with charging runs by Jack Ward (4), George Ord (5) and Liam Hills (3) in turn making deep penetrations into the Moseley Oak defence to set up good attacking positions for the Sutton backline to exploit putting Sutton on the front foot but as one such attack developed a loose pass on the halfway line was intercepted by Moseley fly half Gareth Jones and with the Sutton players out of position the fly half gathered the ball and raced in under the posts for a spectacular score, which he converted himself to stretch the Moseley Oak lead to 12-0 against the run of play, with 36 minutes played.
Stunned but not down Sutton again stepped up their game and pressed hard in the minutes leading up to the break but without affecting the scoreboard. However 4 minutes into the second half as Sutton continued to press a loose ball on the halfway line went to ground from Moseley Oak and a strong Sutton boot sent the ball hurtling towards the Moseley try line chased by the Sutton flyers. The Moseley Oak defenders got to the ball first but knocked on in their scramble to control the ball and Sutton were awarded an attacking scrum in the Oak 22. Sutton won the scrum in front of the posts and as they drove for the try line the ball was picked up by scrum half Ollie Green, who made ground before passing to his left wing George Creed, who crossed the line for a well worked try wide out on the left and although the conversion was missed the deficit was closed to 7 points at 12-5.
Encouraged by the score Sutton received the ball from the restart and immediately set up a counterattack taking play up to the halfway line before releasing the ball and following a break down the right wing, full back Tom Burrows raced in to score in the right hand corner further closing the score to 12-10 with 8 minutes of the second half played and with Sutton very much in the ascendency.
For their part the home side stepped up their game to counter the Sutton dominance and for the next 20 minutes the game once again went into a neutral phase with neither side adding to the scoreboard in a highly entertaining contest for the neutral observer.
However, with 7 minutes left to play Sutton broke the close fought deadlock when prop Liam Hills made a charging run down the Sutton left taking play up to the Moseley 22 before the ball was re-gathered and spun to the right with quick hands transferring the ball across the 22 and onto the right wing where substitute winger Will Smewin went over in the corner to secure what appeared to be the winning score giving Sutton the lead for the first time at 15-12.
The difficult conversion was missed but from the restart Sutton set about defending their narrow lead in the minutes remaining and for their part relegation threatened Moseley Oak showed their own intentions, when they spurned a simple penalty in front of the posts and a chance to level the scores opting for a lineout 5 metres from the Sutton try line instead going all out for the win and not prepared to settle for a draw with time running out. From the lineout on their left wing Moseley recovered the ball cleanly and drove for the try line but the Sutton defensive wall held firm against the successive onslaughts and as the play gradually crabbed to the right the ball was fed to fullback Sam Hayward, who took the ball on the burst and charged over for the decisive score under the Sutton posts, which was converted by fly half Gareth Jones on the final whistle gaining the home side a much needed win in their battle to climb out of the relegation zone. But they have more battles to win as they still sit in 12th place with teams placed 12,13 & 14 destined for relegation.
On the plus side for Sutton, the pack performed well in the forward exchanges & set play showing outstanding strength and ability, with flanker James Wells making an excellent 1st XV debut in a strong back row display alongside his brother Jack and no8 Sam Harris and in the backline youngster Sam Grimshaw made an impressive debut from the bench.
This weekend Sutton welcome second place Newbold upon Avon for the return leg of their league fixtures, for what should be another highly entertaining game as Newbold continue their pursuit of league leaders Bromsgrove and Sutton look to strengthen their mid-table position. Kick off 2.15pm at the RSG Sat 26th Jan 2019.