Excellent 24-17 opening win for Sutton

Last Updated: Sep 6, 2016 09:19am
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Midlands 1 West


Last weekend the new look Sutton side bounced back from the disappointments of last season to start their Midland 1 West league campaign with a hard fought, well deserved 24-17 opening day victory over old rivals Dudley Kingswinford, who like Sutton have had their problems over recent seasons after dropping from National 2 level 4 down to M1W level 6 in consecutive seasons but last season D-K stopped the rot and they have rebuilt their team arriving at Walmley Rd with high expectations for the coming season; However, in front of a hopeful and expectant home crowd Sutton's attacking flair and defiant defence won the day to start the new season on a winning note, outscoring their opponents by 3 tries to 1.


In a highly entertaining game Sutton left it late to secure the victory and with the scores level at 17 all with 7 minutes left to play it appeared that the home side had squandered a hard earned 17-3 lead through a succession of ill-timed penalties and yellow cards but such is the belief in this young Sutton side that inspired by no8 and new skipper Jack Woodcock, their resolve saw them snatch victory in the closing minutes with an outstanding try set up by a scintillating run up the right wing by Nathan Burchell, who took play from his own 22 into the visitors 22 and then quick Sutton support secured the ball, which was passed infield for new signing Tom Benjamin at fullback to race through the heart of the D-K defence to score the winning try to the left of the posts.


Fly half Ben Morgan added the conversion to complete the scoring with 3 conversions and a penalty to his name having converted the two previous tries by wingers Miles Gregory and Nathan Burchell respectively in the 24 point tally.


The game was played on the old first team pitch in front of the clubhouse, in perfect pitch conditions and after early morning rain D-K kicked off in the dry with a slight breeze blowing towards the driveway in Suttons favour for the first half but the power of the wind increased in the second half assisting the D-K kickers.


Unfortunately an over enthusiastic start by the Sutton side cost them 3 penalties and 3 points (kicked by Nick Adams) in the first 6 minutes and 3 yellow cards during the course of the game, which disrupted the fluency of the home side but did not dent their enthusiasm or determination to take the game to their illustrious opponents and even though 3 nil down and reduced to 13 men during the fraught opening exchanges, on 15 minutes Sutton created an outstanding try scoring opportunity in the left corner but unfortunately the ball flew forward as the player crossed the line and the chance was missed. However, with Sutton restored to 14 men and still on the attack D-K were caught offside in front of their posts and Ben Morgan levelled the scores at 3-3 midway through the first half.


Continuing with their positive attacking play Sutton forced the pace in the visitors half and although a  Sutton throw on the Sutton right wing went long the ever alert prop Sean Harrison, loitering at the back of the lineout was quick to gather the ball and burst through the D-K defence with a determined charge to the try line taking play deep into the visitors 22. Again Sutton were quick to the breakdown and the ball was recycled into midfield before being swept left and into the hands of left wing Miles Gregory, who made no mistake as he took the ball over the tryline to score an excellent try in the left corner. 


Although technically on the wrong side for a left footed kicker Ben Morgan used the wind brilliantly to land the touchline conversion giving Sutton a 10-3 lead 10 minutes before the break. Again Sutton continued to press forward from the restart and with the pack holding their own comfortably in the forward exchanges, scrums and lineouts, the back row of Sam Harris (6), newly returned Jack Braniff (7) and no8 jack Woodcock excelled in the open play allowing the Sutton backline to express themselves freely, which they did to great effect with the next score coming from winger Nathan Burchell, who found himself in possession in midfield after a breakout from the Sutton 22 by flanker Sam Harris. The flying flanker was hauled down on the halfway line and the ball went loose but the winger quickly stepped in to pickup the ball and cleverly chipped over the heads of the advancing D-K players before racing past them to re-gather the ball and cross the try line to the left of the posts for a great solo effort.


Again Ben Morgan was spot on with the conversion to give Sutton a 17-3 lead with 5 minutes to play to the break but the visitors had a consolation score when Sutton were caught off side in their 22 and Duncan Tompkins kicked the penalty for a 17-6 halftime score line. 


Playing against a strengthening wind Sutton found it difficult to clear their lines as they came under increasing pressure from a resurgent D-K, who were as determined as Sutton to start the season on a winning note and 5 minutes into the second period Sutton were penalised for not rolling away after the tackle to allow Duncan Tompkins to close to 17-9 before Sutton suffered another yellow card for a repeat offence and Duncan Tompkins kicked the resulting penalty to bring Dudley right back into the game at 17-12 with 10 minutes of the second half played.


14 man Sutton held out magnificently against an increased onslaught by D-K, who threw everything they had at the solid wall of green defenders but eventually the extra man told creating an overlap and fullback Nick Adams raced into the left corner for an equalising score at 17-17 midway through the second half.


Fortunately for Sutton the difficult conversion drifted wide and the combative sides started the final 20 minutes of the game level on 17 points promising a pulsating finale, which ignited the large contingent of D-K travelling supporters and home support alike.


With everything to play for both sides focussed on the task ahead and the fitness/skill training regime undertaken by the Sutton squad during the summer training programme, under the guidance and direction of the new coaching duo of Alex White (backs coach) and Alan Keylock ( forwards coach), really came into its own during the critical closing period as Sutton continued to demonstrate a well organised and fully effective defence when under attack and the old fluency and flair returned when attacking opportunities presented themselves.


With the minutes ticking by and the game tied with 7 minutes to play, it took a moment of rugby magic by Sutton's very own magician Nathan Burchell to break the deadlock. As D-K pressed Sutton hard pinning them in their own 22,  the wily winger gained possession and keeping the ball in hand after seeing an opening on the right wing the mercurial winger broke out his own 22 to race 40 metres into the opposition 22, evading would be tacklers before finally being stopped short of the try line but again the Sutton support arrived quickly to sweep the ball into midfield for fullback Tom Benjamin to mark his first game back in the Sutton green with a superb try as he took the perfect line to race through the disorganised D-K defence and score to the left of the posts.


Ben Morgan added the conversion for a 24-17 lead but with 6 minutes left to play the win was not secure and it took a try saving interception and clearance by 17 year old replacement winger Laurie Harries on the Sutton try line to prevent a final try for the visitors.. but showing remarkable discipline and control in the closing moments Sutton were able to celebrate a return to winning ways with an excellent victory to announce their return to Midlands 1 rugby with everything to play for in the coming season.


The win and the nature of the victory is a credit to all the players and the new coaching duo of Alex and Alan, for their commitment and hard work through the summer training and preseason build-up programme and sets Sutton on the right path after the disappointments of last season.


Sutton travel to Hereford RFC this weekend looking to continue their winning start to the new season. KO 3 pm.


All support welcome to witness that the sparkle has returned to the Sutton team!!!


Other team results:


The Sutton development side playing as a 2nd XV gave 4 u18 and 1 u19 players their first taste of senior rugby under the captaincy of former 1st XV prop and club stalwart Dave Smith but unfortunately in their debut game the new starters came up against a very strong and well drilled 2nd XV and suffered a heavy 41-12 defeat at Bridgnorth. In spite of the defeat Jack Wells and Tom Allwood gave standout performances in a great team effort.


The Sutton 3rd XV also suffered with a narrow 7-5 defeat away to Bournville but frustratingly in a close fought thriller they so nearly claimed the comeback score in the closing seconds of the game.


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