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Crucial win for Sutton against Lichfield

Sutton Coldfield 19 v 17 Lichfield

Last Updated: Nov 24, 2014 07:40pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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National League 3 Midlands
After a hard fought and close contest Sutton secured an important 19-17 victory over local rivals Lichfield, who won promotion into the National Leagues at the end of last season and Sutton's near neighbours brought a strong side to Walmley Road, intent on reclaiming the bragging rights for their City over the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield but in the event it was the home side who ended a Lichfield 5 game unbeaten run with a determined and resolute performance returning the Sutton side to winning ways after recent hic-ups home and away cost them their last 3 games.
Before kick-off the teams lined up for a minutes applause as a mark of respect for John Wheelwright, a former Sutton player at junior and colts level who sadly was only in his forties when he lost his battle with cancer but will be fondly remembered by friends and fellow players at the club and recognised as the catalyst for the Sutton Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised over £1000.
Everyone at SCRFC pass our condolences and best wishes on to John's family and friends at this difficult time.
Once the game got underway, all the points were scored in a challenging first half with Sutton dominating the early scrums but the strong Lichfield back division edged the contest behind the scrum with some sharp finishing in the opening quarter. Sutton were first to score after 10 minutes of play, which was mainly focused in the Lichfield 22, setting up a try for skipper Fraser Tait, who broke from the base of the scrum to score from close range as Sutton drove forward and with centre Alex White adding the conversion Sutton held a deserved 7-0 lead after a powerful and determined start but Lichfield fought back and they ran in 2 well worked tries on 15 minutes and 17 minutes respectively. The first came from a break in mid field, which created an overlap on the right wing and outside centre Paul Maxwell-Keys raced into the corner to close the score to 7-5.. and just 2 minutes later left wing Harvey Wootton raced into the left corner as a Sutton clearance missed touch and was run back at pace catching Sutton by surprise and giving Lichfield a 10-7 lead mid-way through the first half. 
Sutton responded well and  nearly scored from the restart as winger Nathan Burchell chased down a searching kick ahead but as the flying winger gathered the ball he was judged to have knocked on in the tackle and the try was denied. Lichfield cleared their lines and then returned play deep into Sutton territory with a long penalty, which gave the visitors an attacking lineout 5 metres from the Sutton try line. The ball was thrown to the middle of the line and 2nd row Callum Turner caught the ball cleanly then found a gap in the Sutton lineout to charge to the line for a third try. The try was converted by no10 Josh Massey to give Lichfield a 17-7 lead 15 minutes before the break.
The fast flowing game continued at a pace as the Sutton backs went through their routines, with fullback Josh Rolls crossing for a try in the right corner 7 minutes before the break following a scrum in the Lichfield 22 and quick distribution to bring Sutton back to 17-12 before winger Nathan Burchell levelled the scores at 17-17 as he supported an excellent break by outside centre Jonny Raistrick, who, when tackled short of the line skilfully flicked the ball up into the hands of the supporting winger for a great try, which was converted by centre Alex White to give Sutton a slender lead going into the break.
The second half was tense affair with both teams desperate for the win but Sutton showed great character and resolve to maintain their discipline and hold off the Lichfield onslaught, which was quite vigorous at times resulting in 2 yellow cards for the overeager visitors, at the end of the first half and mid-way through the second period respectively but considering the importance of the game to both clubs and the respective ambitions for the season, the game was played in a combative but sporting manner and was credit to both teams on their first encounter since 17/12/2011, whilst playing in Midlands 1 West before Sutton won promotion. 
As the half developed, although Lichfield had two long range penalty attempts and Sutton one, with all drifting wide, both defences held firm and on the balance of play and the dominance of the Sutton pack with their power surges the home side deserved to take the honours in this happy reunion and the neighbourly focus now turns to the return fixture at Lichfield on 21st March 2015. 
Sutton have a break this weekend, returning to league action on Sat 6th Dec with a trip to league leaders South Leicester and then they welcome Longton to the RSG Walmley Road on Sat 13th Dec, which will mark the mid point of the season. KO 2.15pm

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