SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Sutton Coldfield 7pts v Newbold RFC 26pts
For 55 minutes Sutton 1st XV were matching and indeed with a 7-5 lead, bettering their illustrious opponents Newbold RFC, who currently sit second in the table and are league title contenders as they chase league leaders Bromsgrove but again in an all too familiar scenario in just '2 minutes of madness' Sutton gifted their grateful opponents two converted tries on 55 and 57 minutes respectively and the home side found themselves 19-7 down against the run of play with 23 minutes left to overcome a self inflicted deficit... but the task was beyond them and in spite of an impressive effort Sutton failed to close the gap and it was the visitors who scored the final try to gain a try scoring bonus point plus a flattering score line of 26-7, which did not reflect Sutton's contribution to a hard fought and highly entertaining contest.
Earlier Sutton had kicked off in moist overhead conditions but with a firm pitch underfoot and they followed the ball to apply early pressure in the Newbold half. For the opening 20 minutes the game swung evenly between the two well matched sides with Sutton quickly coming to terms with the heavy Newbold pack and matching them in the set scrums and lineouts during the opening exchanges.
During this period Sutton had a strong gusting wind behind them and their first chance to put points on the board came when inside centre Joel James took on a long range 45 metre penalty kick from just inside the Newbold half. Unfortunately whilst the long kick had the legs it drifted to the right of the posts and was touched down for a 22 metre drop out. From the restart Sutton continued to threaten the Newbold try line and they maintained their pressure in the Newbold half, whilst holding strong against the counterattacks set up by their opponents in a very even and entertaining opening 30 minutes.
However, 32 minutes into the game the visitors pack was applying sustained pressure on the Sutton try line to the left of the posts but as the Sutton defensive wall held strong Newbold reverted to plan B and sent the ball out towards the right where fly half Dan O'Brien found space to cross for the opening try.
The difficult conversion was missed but the visitors took a 5-0 lead and from the restart Sutton stepped up the pressure taking the game to their highflying opponents and keeping play in the Newbold half. However, the lively Newbold backs were quick to exploit any openings in the Sutton line and on at least two occasions Sutton's scrum half Tom Harris had to cover back to chase down Newbold runners on the break to save certain tries and along with Ollie Green at fullback Sutton kept their line intact against further scores, whilst continuing to apply their own pressure in the Newbold 22, when the chances came.
With halftime rapidly approaching Sutton were awarded a penalty in mid-field and fly half Ben Morgan kicked accurately into the right corner for a 5 meter lineout on the Newbold try line. Sutton gathered a clean throw from hooker Dean Ginn and the pack gathered round to drive a well organised maul towards the Newbold try line. However, as Sutton went to ground the ball over the line a Newbold player twisted his body to prevent a clean grounding and the referee judged the ball to have been held up over the line but as he blew for what would have been a 5 metre scrum to Sutton it was in fact the whistle to end the half and Sutton were denied a golden opportunity to put points on the board.
Having finished the first half on a high Sutton continued in the same vein at the start of the second half and from the Newbold restart Sutton applied pressure in the Newbold 22 from a well placed kick ahead and although Newbold reached the ball first under pressure they carried over their try line giving Sutton a 5 metre attacking scrum. From the put-in Sutton drove the scrum forward with the ball at the feet of no8 George Ord but the scrum was close to the posts and the no8 was unable to make a clean grounding at the base of the post, however Sutton were able to keep control of the ball and whilst no8 George Ord was denied second row Steve McCormack was able to weave his way past the bodies to score to the right of the posts and fly half Ben Morgan added the conversion to give Sutton a 7-5 lead 4 minutes into the second half.
Encouraged by the score as a result of their positive play Sutton continued to play with belief and commitment against a strong and talented opposition and at this stage in the proceedings it was the home side who looked the better team and had the upper hand with both sets of supporters starting to believe that an upset was on the way. However, with 55 minutes played disaster struck for Sutton as they misguidedly tried to run the ball out of their own 22 and a misjudged pass was intercepted by the Newbold fly half Dan O'Brien, who gratefully accepted the gift and raced in to score under the posts giving himself an easy conversion and Newbold a 12-7 lead.
Then at the restart lightening struck for a second time when Newbold gathered the ball, sidestepped a tackle in mid-field to run into space over the halfway line before feeding scrum half Jamie Mapletoft, who raced in unopposed to score under the posts and fly half Dan O'Brien added a simple conversion for the second time in two minutes to extend the lead to 19-7 turning the game on its head.
Faced with the self imposed 14 point deficit Sutton rallied to the task but in spite of their best endeavours it was the league title contenders who stepped up their game in the closing minutes as they chased a fourth try for a bonus point in their pursuit of league leaders Bromsgrove and their chance came in the dying seconds of injury time when they were awarded a penalty in the Sutton 22.
Sensing their chance they took a quick tap penalty and substitute Danny Facer forced his way over to the right of the posts, to secure the bonus point try and fly half O'Brien added the conversion on the final whistle to close the game at 26-7, a score line which failed to reflect Sutton's strong contribution to the game.
Again Sutton can take many positives from the game but analysis will show that whilst they competed strongly and had the upper hand for 75 minutes of the 80, handing an interception try to their opponents and as a result conceding 14 points in 2 minutes in a tight game does them no favours but that apart Sutton proved they can live with the best teams in this league and they have the power, pace and aptitude to climb the table from their present 8th place, if they address the self inflicted errors all teams can make.
The Sutton 1st XV now take a well earned break from the rigours of league rugby this coming weekend, which provides a break in the league schedules for postponed games or Cup games to be played and Sutton return to league action on Sat 9th Feb when they travel to 5th place Old Haleonians. KO 2.15 pm.
Sutton Development Side - 26th Jan 2019
Sutton Coldfield 27pts v Newbold 2nd XV 0pts
Midlands Reserve League - Div. 2
Under the direction of Sutton's inspirational Development Coach Maria Crowfoot the Sutton second string, playing as a development side in the Midlands Reserve League, took on a strong Newbold 2nd XV and proved that Sutton have strength in depth as they raced into a 15-0 halftime lead scoring 3 tries in the first half before completing the victory with 2 more tries plus a conversion in a comfortable second half to make up the impressive final 27-0 score line.
The Sutton tries were scored by Luke Stewart, Joe Gregory, Jack O'Brien, Chris Duckworth and Jack Wells, with Chris Hendley adding a conversion.
The game marked the welcome return to fitness for try scorer Luke Stewart, who has been side lined with a troublesome groin injury for many weeks but thankfully the remarkable player came through this testing game unscathed and hopefully can now return to full playing duties.