1st XV Manager
Old Halesonians 26pts v Sutton Coldfield 12pts
Once again when faced with a team in the top five of the table, for much of a competitive game Sutton dominated the play but not the scoreboard and their well drilled opponents Old Halesonians took the chances offered whilst Sutton again failed to turn pressure into points as they suffered another disappointing defeat, with the fourth opposition try coming on the final whistle to record a miss-representative 26-12 score line.
Old Hales kicked off with a strong gusting crosswind blowing towards the home stand on the exposed ground but with good firm conditions underfoot and the fired up Sutton side gathered the ball cleanly taking play straight back into the Old Hales half to apply early pressure in the home 22 with strong positive play but a dropped pass in a promising position close to the try line allowed the home side to clear the danger and take play back into the Sutton half.
At this point Sutton were competing well in the scrums and lineouts with their second row power players Jack Ward and George Ord taking it turn to make storming runs to punch holes in the opposition defensive line setting up good positions for Sutton to exploit but against the run of play 10 minutes into the game Sutton were building a free running attack up their right wing when a loose pass went to ground on the halfway line. Old Halesonian's were quick to pounce and they hacked the ball on into acres of space behind the Sutton players, who were lined up to support the attack. Halesonian's left wing Charles Hilliard raced through to gather the ball close to the try line and the winger spun out of a despairing tackle to score the opening try to the left of the posts.
Fullback Steve Powell added the conversion to give the home side a surprising 7-0 lead after 10 minutes of play.
Stunned by the unexpected score Sutton stepped up their play again and took the game to their illustrious opponents applying pressure in the Old Hales half with excellent line kicking by Sutton fly half Ben Morgan returning the play up field to keep the pressure on the home side and subdue the vocal home support whenever the opportunity presented itself. But unfortunately all to often for every 10 things Sutton did brilliantly 1 lapse cost them possession and field position handing the initiative back to their high flying and well organised opponents through handling errors or poor decision making.
Never-the-less Sutton were still very much in the game and on the front foot, as a strike against the head by Sutton hooker Dean Ginn proved winning vital possession at an Old Hales scrum. If Sutton could just cut out the unforced errors all things were possible but with halftime approaching injuries to key players in the pack with 2nd row Jack Ward & no8 Sam Harris having to leave the field forced a reshuffle in the formation of the forwards, with the reliable Tom Foulsham leaving the bench to replace Ward in the second row, utility prop Jonah Falconer moving into the back row alongside Jack O'Brien, who was making an excellent 1st XV debut and young prop Dan Baldock came off the bench for the remainder of the game to make a very solid and impressive 1st XV debut.
Sutton came under a lot of pressure at this time but the new look side defended very well with left wing George Creed making the most spectacular try saving tackle as the Old Hales right wing raced clear heading for the corner but was brought down by a perfectly executed chasing tackle from behind, however, shortly afterwards the tables were turned when Sutton won turnover ball in their own half and Creed the speedy winger was about to race clear but as he set to kick beyond the last defender he was brought to ground by a desperate tap tackle and the chance was gone.
As the game moved into time added on at the end of the first half Old Hales stepped up their game to set up sustained attacks on the Sutton try line and although Sutton defended their line strongly the pounding continued until finally the ball was flung out to left wing Charles Hilliard, who cut infield and raced in to score a try under the posts for fullback Steve Powell to add a simple conversion to close the first half with the Old Hales lead extended to 14-0.
Frustrated that they had made most of the running in the first half but due to brief lapses found themselves trailing 14-0 at the start of the second half, Sutton started the second period with a renewed intent and they stepped up their game putting their opponents under increased pressure straight from the restart such that their opponents had to step outside the laws to try to contain the Sutton onslaught receiving consecutive yellow cards on 13 minutes and 17 minutes respectively. Sutton continued their new offensive and camped on the Old Hales try line moving play right then left before the ball was swung out to the left wing where fly half Ben Morgan squeezed over by the left corner flag and then followed up with an outstanding left footed conversion of his own try from the left touch line to reduce the score line to 14-7 with 22 minutes left to play.
Sutton were in the ascendency but unfortunately, another slip by Sutton as they developed an attack down their left allowed Old Hales outside centre Tom Jarvis to break free and race 40 metres down the right wing cutting inside to score close to the posts making the conversion easier for fullback Steve Powell, who duly obliged extending the lead to 21-7 with 15 minutes left to play.
Again Sutton fought back to create a scoring chance for skipper Tom Burrows, who skilfully squeezed over in the right corner after Sutton won a 5 metre scrum against the head to feed the skipper on the tight blindside with little space to work with. Unfortunately the difficult conversion was blown off course and the score remained at 21-12. Then with time running out, although Sutton redoubled their efforts in the closing 8 minutes it was the home side who had the final word as they secured a bonus point with their fourth try through 2nd row Tom King, who forced his way over from short range on the final whistle to win the game 26-12.
Once again, in defeat Sutton can take many positives from a difficult game which saw many changes to the regular first team selection with skipper and first choice prop Sean Harrison not available along with fellow prop Liam Hills but Jonah Falconer and long serving veteran Dave Smith stepped into the breech to provide a strong front row and did a great job against formidable opposition. When called on from the bench Sutton boy Dan Baldock had a great debut when he entered the fray to perform well in the set plays and he contributed hugely in the open play with his powerful runs and strong defence. Scrum half Ollie Green had one of his best games of the season distributing the ball well and contributing with effective sniping runs and strong tackles when needed. Also deserving of a mention was the performance of another recently returned Sutton boy, flanker Jack O'Brien, who made an excellent debut for the 1st XV and like many others who contributed to the Sutton performance, including the Sutton coach Joe Gavin and his hard working coaching staff, deserved a better result...but there is always next week to put things right.
Speaking of next week 8th place Sutton prepare to face another top team when 6th placed Stoke RFC are the visitors to the RSG, Walmley Road for what should prove to be another highly entertaining contest between two strong sides. Not to be missed KO 2.15.
Sutton Development Side - Sat 9th Feb 2019:
Sutton Coldfield 14pts v Old Halesonians 2nd XV 29pts
Midlands Reserve League - Division 2
The Sutton Development side playing as a 2nd XV in the Reserve Team League faced another stern test last weekend when faced with a powerful and experienced Old Halesonians 2nd XV and although Sutton held their opponents to a narrow 7-10 lead at the break the visitors went on to win the match 29-14 as they outscored the brave Sutton players by 5 tries and two conversions to 2 tries and two conversions by the home side.
The Sutton points were scored by Ryan Potter in the first half and Harry Moxon in the second half, with both tries converted by T J Allwood
Sutton Casuals - Friday 8th Feb 2019:
Bournville 3rd XV 31pts v Sutton Casulas 10pts
Organised by Sutton's Dave Bunn this friendly sociable evening game played under floodlights at the new Bournville Club ground in Edgbaston was greatly enjoyed by all. The Sutton Team of volunteer players travelled from the Sutton Clubhouse in a Mini-bus paid for by the Sutton Club as approved by the Club Chairman Geoff Fletcher, who travelled on the mini-bus to ensure that the players could make the most of a very sociable rugby themed evening and so it proved.
As to the game itself, the Sutton lads played well in the first half holding their younger opponents to 10-5, two tries to one at the break but the Bournville players had the legs in the second half and run out winners by 31-10 after a most enjoyable evening of rugby. All you want from the game of rugby without eating into the weekend!!
The Sutton point scorers were Matthew Campbell, who scored in the first half and Tom Odey, who scored in the second half.