SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Stourbridge Lions 23pts v Sutton Coldfield 8pts
After the scheduled one week break in the M1W league programme, Sutton 1st XV returned to league action last weekend when they travelled to Stourbridge on Friday evening for a floodlit match on the new RFU sponsored all weather pitch but unfortunately in spite of the chance to regroup, Sutton failed to shake off their tendency in recent defeats to play well but fail to take the chances they had created and after a good start once again Sutton failed to turn pressure into points, whilst their opponents took their chances in the 23-8 defeat.
Sutton had won the reverse floodlit fixture 36-17 at the RSG in November 2018, in a convincing bonus point performance and with Sutton now only one place above Stourbridge in the league this was a must win game for both teams but whilst losing the game Sutton defended well in the final minutes to deny the home side a 4th try and a bonus point, which would have taken Stourbridge above Sutton in the league table, however, in the final event Sutton remain 9th with Stourbridge level on points but held in 10th place by Sutton's better points difference with 5 more games to be played to the end of the season.
The game was played in excellent conditions and Sutton kicked off in front of a large excitable crowd housed in the impressive grandstands on either side of the Astroturf pitch on a dry but chilly evening and the visitors immediately took the game to their opponents applying early pressure in the Stourbridge 22 and although Sutton failed to claim an early try they did open the scoring after a great carry by centre Paul Spiby, with a well struck 35 metre penalty by fly half Ben Morgan to give them a 3-0 lead after just 5 minutes of play.
Keeping up the pressure Sutton recovered the ball from the restart taking play back into Stourbridge half again and they nearly extended their lead when a 40 metre penalty drifted just wide of the posts and minutes later following the restart newly returned Sutton flanker Lewis Snowden gained possession from an off-load following a break in mid-field and the powerful flanker made a determined charge for the try line in the right corner but he was stopped just short of the line and the attempted off load went forward allowing Stourbridge to clear their lines from the resulting defensive scrum.
Still pinned in their own half after 15 minutes of play Stourbridge made an unexpected decisive break down their right wing catching Sutton out off position as they raced into the Sutton half creating an overlap that sent fullback Nick Mann racing in for the opening try. The conversion was missed but against the run of play the home side took a 5-3 lead going into the next period of the game.
Sutton responded well and minutes later centre Paul Spiby made another superb break being hauled down just short of the try line to deny Sutton and then another penalty chance drifted wide from 30 metres denying Sutton yet another chance their play deserved to take the lead.
But in the event, heading into injury time at the end of the first half Stourbridge mounted an attack in mid-field taking play up to the Sutton 22 and with play held up the ball was skilfully kicked to the right corner. Following up at pace the Stourbridge right wing Geo Tildesley received a kind bounce and he raced in field to score to the right of the posts. Fly half Tom Mitchell added the conversion to extend the Stourbridge lead to 12-3 on the stroke of halftime.
After such a hammer blow at the end of the first half Sutton needed a good start to the second half but unfortunately it was not to be as a miss field by Sutton when receiving the drop out on their 22 led to penalty for off side and Tom Mitchell added the 3 points to stretch the lead to 15-3 in the first minute of the second half and then 10 minutes into the second period Sutton compounded their problems by conceded another penalty, this time for not releasing in mid-field and Mitchell kicked the penalty from 30 metres to take the lead to 18-3 with 30 minutes left to play.
Again Sutton responded well to the increased deficit and midway through the second half they fought back with the Sutton pack producing successive drives towards the Stourbridge try line keeping the home side defence under sustained pressure as the repetative rucks and mauls crabbed along the try line from left to right before the ball was released to the backs and fullback Joel James squeezed over in the right corner for a well deserved Sutton try.
Unfortunately the difficult conversion was missed and the score remained at 18-8 with 20 minutes left to play. Equally unfortunate the ball was knocked on by Sutton at the restart putting them back under immediate pressure in their own 22 but the visitors defended well and a driving maul by Stourbridge went over the try line but was adjudged to have been held up and Stourbridge were then penalised in the subsequent play allowing Sutton to clear their lines. However, at this point all the pressure was coming from Stourbridge and their efforts were rewarded when 12 minutes from time the ball was spun away from a driving maul on the Stourbridge right wing, across the face of the Sutton posts creating an overlap on the left for right wing Geo Tildesley to race in for his second try of the afternoon.
The conversion was missed so the score stood at 23-8 and although Sutton tried to rally their forces in the closing minutes to close the deficit their principle task was to mount a solid defence as their opponents strived for a fourth try and a bonus point, which would have lifted them above Sutton in the league but Sutton defended well to deny their hosts this final reward.
Once again injury and selection problems meant last minute changes had to be made to the selected team with powerhouse Jack Ward having to step down to be replaced by the highly regarded Steve McCormack in the second row and changes to the front row saw Chris Bancroft make his first appearance of the season at hooker and with Lewis Snowden coming into the back row, on paper Sutton fielded a strong pack but the constant changes are unsettling and although the scrums and lineouts went well the early season fluency was missing and with skipper Sean Harrison carrying a knee injury he was not able the provide his normal inspiration as he reluctantly left the field to be replaced by Danny Griffin at prop although the young Lewis Belton continued to impress in the second row. Injuries during the game took their toll as Sutton finished the closing minutes of the game with just 14 fit players on the field.
This weekend Sutton travel to Worcester RFC looking to recover the form they showed in the early part of the season as they take on a team placed 8th in the table just one place above Sutton with every league point crucial at this late stage in the season. KO 3pm.
Other team Results:
Friday - 1st March 2019;
Sutton Casuals Social Rugby.
Under the excellent floodlights at the RSG, Walmley Rd the Sutton Casuals hosted a friendly social contest with a Bournville RFC 3rd XV last Friday evening and after a very entertaining and enjoyable game the evening continued with an equally entertaining evening in the bar in the traditional manner befitting of a hospitable rugby club.
To even up the numbers at the start of the game Sutton sportingly loaned 5 players to their guests, who had arrived with a bare fifteen leaving Sutton with around 20 players themselves wearing green and so the game proceeded in a competitive and sporting manner with both teams playing well in a close contest but Bournville just edged Sutton out with a 54-46 victory.
But everyone was a winner on a great evening.
Saturday - 2nd March 2019:
Sutton Development Side - Midlands Reserve League.
Sutton Development Side 24pts v Stourbridge Lions 2nd XV 50pts;
The Sutton second string hosted a strong Stourbridge 2nd XV but the Sutton team made a very good start scoring 4 tries and two conversions in the first half to take a 24-19 lead into the halftime break. However, the visitors came back very strongly in the second half adding 5 tries to the 3 tries they scored in first half making a total of 8 tries and 5 conversions in a 50-24 points victory.
The Sutton points were scored by Nick Boddington on 6 mins, Zak Tyler on 9 mins, Tom Foulsham on 18 mins and Chris Duckworth scored the bonus point winning try on 28 minutes. For his part Chris Hendley added 2 conversions.
Sunday - 3rd March 2019:
Sutton Colts - North Midlands Colts League.
Woodrush Colts 42pts v Sutton Colts 7pts;
Surprisingly Sutton Colts had a rare off day when they travelled to Woodrush last Sunday for their Colts League contest but on the day they found their opposition to be too good as they slumped to a 42-7 loss.
Having trailed 21-7 at the break Sutton were unable to add to the try scored by Paul O'Toole and converted by Harry Wheelwright on 30 minutes and although they battled bravely, on this occasion they had accept an honourable defeat.
Sutton's problems started before the kick-off when for various reasons they turned up with only 14 players and had to play the whole game without a fullback leaving them exposed at the back, a weakness exploited to great effect by their wily opponents, who took ruthless control of the play leaving Sutton to chase shadows.