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Annual Students Festive Fixture

Sutton Coldfield 48 v 50 Sutton Academicals

Last Updated: Jan 1, 2016 07:20pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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With no fixtures scheduled over the Christmas break, the annual Sutton Academicals festive fun game became the focus of rugby activities at the Sutton club over the Christmas period and the match did not disappoint. With both sides entering into the spirit of the occasion, 18 tries were scored in an exciting and enjoyable close run contest between two well matched and enterprising teams, who gave their all in an exhilarating display of festival rugby. Just 2 points separated the combatants after 90 minutes of sporting and spirited play and so it was the Sutton Students plus guests, who took the honours and received the winner's cup from Club President Paul Rogers in the bar after the match, signalling the start of the equally competitive and enjoyable bar room games.
Both teams were organised and prepared by 1st XV and development coach, Arthur Terry teacher Joe Gavin, with the mixed Sutton side made up essentially of Sutton 3rd XV players led from the front row by skipper Steve Marshall, whilst the Academicals side comprised Sutton students back home for Christmas, led by sports trainer George Ord, with a sprinkling of younger first team and development side players added in for good measure. 
The game kicked off at 2 pm with perfect playing conditions for a running game and true to the tradition of the game the teams ran everything with the Sutton side scoring 8 tries plus 4 drop goal conversions... but they were edged out by the Academicals, who scored 10 tries with the last score coming in the final minutes to snatch victory moving from 45-48 to take the honours 50-48 in a suitably dramatic finish to an excellent contest. 
The Academicals kicked off but 5 minutes into the game Sutton's 2nd row Lewis Snowden, on loan from the 1st XV squad set the tone for the game with an impressive 40 metre dash to the line and after adding the conversion himself with a drop goal Sutton took an early 7-0 lead as the game developed into an enthralling contest. Although there was plenty of positive attacking play during the following period it was a further 15 minutes before the score moved on when Academicals right wing Mike Burns finished an excellent break by George Ord with a well taken try in the corner to close to 7-5 but the Aca's took the lead at 10-7 after 25 minutes when Alex Roberts went over in the same corner after great work by no8 Jack Woodcock, who then scored himself after picking up a loose ball in midfield and racing in for an excellent and powerful 40 metre try to extend the lead to 15-7 with 10 minutes to play to the break. 
The final 10 minutes of the all action second period of the first half saw 4 more tries as the teams picked up the pace with 2 tries apiece. The first of the final four in the first forty fell to the Aca's Zak Taylor, who claimed a try in the right corner to take the score to 20-7 but Sutton responded with a try in the left corner following a perfectly placed chip into the corner for a 20-12 score line...however the Academicals replied with a second try for winger Mike Burns to bring the score to 25-12 before James Wells claimed a try back for Sutton and with a well judged drop goal the young Wells ended the half with Sutton trailing 17-25. 
The second half kicked off with the same sense of urgency and 5 minutes after the restart the Aca's stretched their lead to 30-17 with a second try for Jack Woodcock but Chris Duckworth provided the perfect reply for Sutton with a try and conversion to close to 24-30 with 8 minutes played. The intensity continued when Tom McNamee showed real pace and determination with an outstanding 40m run down the right wing to score in the corner for a 35-24 lead 12 minutes into the second half and then mid way through the second half the lead was extended to 40-24 after great work by George Ord and Nathan Burchell.  
The next period of play saw two excellent rapid fire tries for Sutton to bring the score to 36-40 with 24 minutes played and then Miles Gregory went in for a second try, which he also converted to give Sutton a 43-40 lead but with the final minutes ticking by a misplaced Sutton clearance was gathered cleanly and run back to punish Sutton and regain a 45-43 lead for the Academicals. 
With 4 minutes left to play Lewis Snowden scored to reclaim the lead for Sutton at 48-45 but in an action packed finale the Academicals squeezed over to claim the winning try and a 50-48 winning margin after a great game, which delighted the large and enthusiastic crowd, who had gathered to enjoy the occasion on and off the field.
 
Other match day news: 
Sutton 1st XV were due to play Old Laurentians in the semi-final of the Warwickshire Cup on Sunday 3rd Jan 2016 but unfortunately Old Laurentians withdrew from the game and so Sutton have a bye and are straight into the final to be played on Sunday 7th Feb 2016, venue and opposition to be advised. 
In the meantime Sutton return to league action on Saturday 9th Jan 2016 looking to kick start their season with a win in the home fixture against local rivals Lichfield at the RSG, Walmley Road. KO 2.15pm. 

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