An Excellent Win for Sutton 1st XV

Sutton Coldfield 26 - 12 Wolverhampton

Last Updated: Nov 21, 2016 10:23pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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After many weeks of unrewarded effort leading to disappointing results in recent games, last weekend Sutton's 1st XV returned to winning ways with a composed and disciplined performance to produce their best result of the season so far as they registered a deserved 26-12 victory over a high flying Wolverhampton side, who started the day in 6th place in the league with Sutton laying second from bottom in a league of 14 teams. 

The excellent victory lifts Sutton out of the relegation zone and is testimony to the talent and determination in the Sutton squad, who have not had the best of fortune this season, with the team selection changing on a week by week basis due to injuries and availabilities, obviously leading to an unsettled team and in consistent team performances. 

However, such is the character within the Sutton squad that they have risen above these setbacks and last Saturday they proved their true ability with a high intensity game putting their illustrious opponents under sustained pressure especially at the breakdown, where the Sutton back row of Sam Harris (6), Rhoss Price (7) and skipper Jack Woodcock (8) tormented the Wolverhampton players leading to a series of penalties and turnovers, which disrupted Wolves and provided good possession for the Sutton side. 

Once again Sutton had to ring the changes in their selection for this critical game with Luke Hennessy taking over at hooker, producing some excellent lineout work and the multi talented Tom Harris moved from midfield to scrum half, with a heavily bandaged Ben Morgan, who has played scrum half in recent games moving to the bench as cover for the backline. The changes worked well and with Sutton's elegant Frenchman Ben Ollivier playing at fullback and flanker Luke Stewart filling in expertly at outside centre alongside the rumbustious Tom McNamee at inside centre the Sutton back division looked sharp, whilst the forwards were boosted by the return of ex first team Sutton stalwart's Ben Bottomley, who started in the second row and prop Dave Smith, who was travelling with the second team when he was called back to Sutton to provide front row cover after a late withdrawal.  

The hastily rearranged Sutton team clicked immediately and within 6 minutes the Sutton side took a 7-0 lead when prop Stuart Collard drove over for the opening try, which was converted by fly half Alex White from the wide left for the perfect start for the energetic Sutton side. In the build up to the try Sutton had received the kick off from Wolverhampton on a dry, firm pitch and although cold the conditions were perfect for running rugby. Wolves followed the ball into the Sutton half and applied pressure but Sutton extradited themselves with the first of many turnovers clearing play to the Wolverhampton 10 metre line on the Sutton right. Sutton won the resulting lineout and drove play into the right corner on the Wolves try line. The ball was held up but although Sutton lost the ensuing scrum they retrieved the ball and launched an attack across the face of the visitors posts and finally a forward drive allowed prop Stuart Collard to force his way over the try line to register a fine score to the left of the posts, which Alex White converted. 

With Sutton in the ascendency Wolverhampton found themselves under constant pressure and on the wrong end of the referee's decisions. Just 2 minutes after the restart following the opening try Sutton were handed a penalty in midfield 38 metres from the goal and Alex White struck the ball perfectly to extend Sutton's lead to 10-0 with 8 minutes played. 

During the next period of play Sutton continued to play positive rugby and when called for they defended strongly with fullback Ben Ollivier proving to be a very reliable last line of defence with strong tackles, safe under the high ball and long clearance kicks/counter attacks when appropriate. In spite of the best efforts of the visitors, there was no change to the scoreboard until midway through the first half when Wolverhampton conceded another penalty, this time for not releasing after a tackle in the Sutton half in midfield and up stepped Sutton's long range missile launcher Tom McNamee, who duly launched a full 56 metre kick through the posts to extend Sutton's lead to 13-0 to the delight of the large Sutton crowd, who were enjoying the re-emergence of the old Sutton style and sparkle. 

With Sutton continuing to play a high pace, high intensity game the visitors were forced into infringements and with 5 minutes to play to the break Alex White slotted Sutton's third penalty of the day from 40 metre stretching the Sutton lead to 16-0... which nearly went to 21-0 on the stroke of halftime when Ben Morgan crossed for a try in the right corner but the part fit replacement winger was called back when the final pass was judged to have gone forward so Sutton had to settle for a deserved 16-0 lead at the break. 

After a scintillating first half against strong opposition Sutton started the second half with the same spirit and 6 minutes into the second period they were rewarded when the forwards again surged towards the visitors try line on the right and although the initial surge was held up Sutton won the second surge and blindside flanker Sam Harris crossed for a deserved try to the right of the posts. Alex White duly added the conversion moving Sutton into a commanding 23-0 lead...but true to their pedigree and fighting spirit, encouraged by their band of travelling support Wolverhampton fought back and 15 minutes after the break the visitors chipped away at the Sutton lead with a scrambled try under the Sutton posts by hooker Ryan Home, converted by fullback Gareth Jones to close to 23-7 but then on 20 minutes, Ben Morgan restored to his fly half role kicked a penalty in the Wolves 22 to ease Sutton ahead 26-7 before Wolverhampton closed out the game with a final consolation try in the corner scored by fullback Gareth Jones to bring the score back to 26-12 with just minutes to play. 

In the few minutes remaining ambitious Wolverhampton were determined to salvage something from the game but Sutton did well to maintain their discipline and new found maturely to repel the visitors last ditch onslaught and record a memorable victory over their old rivals. 

After winning the first 2 home games and losing 1 away game in their first 3 league games, Sutton suffered a slump and a bleak run followed with 6 consecutive loses, albeit mainly narrow defeats gaining 4 losing bonus points out of the 7 defeats to date. 

Hopefully after 10 games this win may prove to be a turning point in Sutton's season but their new found confidence and flair will be put to the test this weekend when Sutton travel to Birmingham University to face big investors Bournville RFC, who sit second in the league, with Sutton now eleventh. However, on the form shown last Saturday Sutton should fear no team in this league and the scene is set for another compelling contest between the two rival teams, who have enjoyed keen competitive matches over recent seasons. KO 2.15pm.


Sutton other team results:

Sutton Development side (words by Gerard Shanahan)

The Development XV lost 48-12 to their counterparts at Wolverhampton with the Sutton points coming courtesy of tries by Danny Bancroft and Joe Gavin, who also kicked a conversion.

Sutton 3rd XV - unfortunately  the Sutton 3rd XV league fixture against Old Halesonians was called off.

Sutton Colts:

Again, unfortunately for the eager Sutton Colts, Walsall cried off the Colts game due to overnight rain and a waterlogged pitch..!!


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