Photo: Victorious Sutton squad after the win against Shelford
Sutton Coldfield Womens Rugby Club
Unbeaten Sutton Women extended their lead at the top of the able to 8 points with a hard fought 40-12 win over a much-improved Shelford side in Cambridgeshire on Sunday afternoon.After the long coach journey the fired-up hosts caught Sutton cold going under the posts of their 4G Grass Pitch after just two minutes through Jodie Turl with Blanca Nagallon converting for a 7-0 lead. Indiscipline at the breakdown by the league leaders was being punished repeatedly by the referee enabling Shelford to dominate possession in the early stages but stout defence by Sutton prevented any further concession of points. Having eventually gained territory thanks to some astute kicking by full back Alison Livermore Sutton started to settle and the threat of their talented backs was there for all to see as Livermore herself twice came into the line to great effect after 11 and 15 minutes scoring twice for her fourth & fifth tries of the season, tries which she converted herself giving the visitors a 14-7 lead after 15 minutes.
Despite the home side maintaining most of the posession, Sutton were a constant threat with ball in hand, Maria Crowfoot made and exceptional break stepping away from several defenders, gaining over twenty metres of territory, before the final ball to Chanelle Stankard unfortunately went a stray. After 35 minutes Tara Wheeldon, Sutton’s outstanding front row forward, registered her 4th try of the campaign with a typically charging run to the line following a quick tap and go penalty, again Livermore converted for a 21-7 half time lead. The expected 2nd half onslaught from the hosts didn’t disappoint with the visitors having to withstand a number of attempts on their line before eventually Rose Bradshaw went over in the corner to reduce the deficit to 21-12. However, this was as good as it was going to get for Shelford as Sutton managed to dominate possession and territory for the rest of the game and added three further scores through a first try of the season by Natalie Kennett , the second row who had a physical presence all game charged over the final defender to score under the posts.
With Sutton on the front foot Kerrie-Anne Melsom soon registered her sixth try of the season , cutting back in-field to beat the covering defender. Sutton's forward plied the pressure to create Sutton's last try, pulling in the oppositions try before the ball was shipped out wide for the outstanding Katie Gregory, later named ‘back of the match’, to crash over the line. Alison Livermore completed a 100% return from the tee converting two of the 2nd half tries for a personal tally of 20 points before suffering an injury which saw her leave the field of play. Sutton will happily take a bonus point 40-12 win on the road against excellent opposition on a surface many of the girls hadn’t encountered before; this was a victory based on good defence and the clinical taking of opportunities that arose. The next league game is away to Rugby Lionesses on 17th February.