SCRFC 1st XV Team Manager
Hereford RFC 23pts v Sutton Coldfield 8pts
Midlands 1 West
Having won the equivalent league fixture away to Hereford in the first game of the league season 12 months ago, recording Sutton's first win at Hereford stretching back over many, many seasons remembered only by the seasoned veterans of both clubs and then going on to complete the double in the return fixture earlier this year, unfortunately last weekend Sutton were unable to repeat the heroics of last season, as they slipped to a disappointing 23-8 defeat against a decent but evenly matched team.
However, the difference between the teams on the day was that the hosts took all their chances efficiently scoring 4 tries plus a penalty, whilst the Sutton side, although playing some good rugby and looking threatening at times all too often failed to take advantage of the chances they created and they could only claim a penalty in an injury hit first half and a late consolation try in the closing stages, as they struggled to find consistency and cohesion in their final build-up play.
Sutton kicked off in dry cool overcast conditions with a firm pitch underfoot on a perfect day for running rugby and they made a good start with sharp movement of the ball taking play deep into the Hereford half and putting their hosts under pressure in the early exchanges. The Sutton pack held up well in the first scrum at which Hereford had the put in and the Sutton lineout looked secure so Sutton had a good platform from which to perform but unfortunately they could not find a way through the Hereford defence and 16 minutes into the game Hereford broke out of their half driving play deep into the Sutton 22 towards the right corner. As the driving maul drifted infield the ball was released and right wing Leon Parsons exploited the blindside to dive over wide out on the right for the opening try.
The conversion drifted wide but Hereford came away with a 5-0 lead after 16 minutes of play. From the restart Sutton again put the Hereford defence under pressure and although they were unable break through to the try line Hereford were penalised 38 metres out and Sutton fly half Ben Morgan landed an excellent kick to close the score to 5-3 after 19 minutes of play.
Encouraged by the score Sutton again stepped up their game following the restart and they set up a promising attack taking play over the halfway line but unfortunately they spilled the ball and Hereford set up a counterattack taking the play up their right wing before switching the ball across the Sutton 22 from right to left sending left wing Tom Stark in for a well worked try.
Again the conversion drifted wide but the try took the score line to 10-3 with 22 minutes played with Sutton still very much in the game but with halftime approaching Sutton were caught offside in midfield 30 metres from their posts and Hereford fly half Bryn Goodall found his range with the penalty to extent the lead to 13-3 and then deep into injury time in the first half, Sutton were pressing in the Hereford 22 but lost the ball. Hereford gathered and drove the ball back deep into the Sutton half for hooker Lewis Jordan to force his way over in the left corner for a decisive score. Again the difficult conversion was missed but to the delight of the home supporters their team took an 18-3 lead into the break.
In the lead up to the break Sutton had to count up their injuries having suffered 3 serious hand injuries plus a shoulder injury to long serving prop Sean Harrison, during the robust but fair first half play.
Mercurial centre Paul Spiby had to be whisked back to Sutton by a Sutton supporter to attend Good Hope A&E with a suspected broken hand, whilst wing Sam Grimshaw had to retire from the field of play but opted to stay with the team before visiting A&E for an ex-ray to check the extent of the damage to his hand the next day. Scrum-half Ollie Green came off for treatment to his hand but he bravely returned to the fray with additional strapping, to cover for the other absences in the backs, together with utility back Tom Harris, who came off the bench as a highly rated replacement along with newly signed centre Arwyn Jones, who made an impressive debut for Sutton after joining in the summer having previously played for Bournville and prop Jonah Falconer made an admirable contribution as front row replacement for the mighty Sean Harrison.
... so against this disturbing background the second half kicked off and in spite of the disruptions Sutton set about their task with great commitment and fortitude but unfortunately try as they may, whilst there was plenty of action the game would not flow and the second 40 minutes proved to be a low scoring affair with just a try to each side. It was the home side, who brought the scoreboard operator into action first when on 15 minutes centre Freddie Spencer swept in for Hereford's fourth try gaining them a valuable bonus point, when the ball was again swung smoothly from left to right across the Sutton posts for Spenser to race in for the score wide out.
Again the tricky conversion was missed but although trailing 23-3 with 25 minutes to play, to their credit Sutton stepped up their game and again took the play to their opponents and with full time approaching Sutton won a penalty, which fly half Ben Morgan kicked accurately into the left corner. Sutton won the lineout and drove for the line setting up a driving maul, which edged ever closer to the Hereford try line before 2nd row Harry Moxon detached himself and skilfully forced his way over to ground the ball over the try line for a moral boosting consolation try. With time running out, for expediency Ben Morgan tried a difficult drop kick conversion, which drifted wide leaving the score at 23-8 and after the restart there was no time for either side to effect the final score.
Although disappointed by the loss Sutton showed something of what they are capable of and although there are things to work on and reinforce, there are promising signs for the season ahead to encourage hard working head coach Joe Gavin and his coaching team plus newly installed all action Club Captain Dean Ginn, who led by example through out the game and will no doubt lead the team to many victories during the coming season.
This weekend Sutton welcome old adversaries Kenilworth RFC back to the RSG, Walmley Rd to renew their old battle lines, having been kept apart over many seasons due to the league system and structures but Kenilworth are definitely a rising force sitting third in the table after the opening games and it will be pleasure to welcome the players, management team and supporters to our home ground once more. KO 3pm