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Newbold 26 - 3 Sutton Coldfield

Warwickshire Cup Final

Last Updated: Apr 26, 2016 08:13pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Unfortunately, after a challenging season in the National Leagues, although Sutton tried hard to raise their game for this one last challenge at the Butts Park Arena, Coventry, last Sunday they fell short and in the final event it was the inform team from the Midlands 1 league, a league below Sutton, who took the honours as old rivals Newbold RFC secured the Warwickshire Cup and County Championship with a 26-3 victory in a hard fought and entertaining final.
In spite of the threat of rain early on the game was played in good conditions with a firm footing and once again Sutton started well receiving the ball from the kick off and taking play back into the Newbold half to apply early pressure but the ball would not run for Sutton and their inconsistency at the lineout continued to be a problem against their well drilled and powerful opponents from a lower league. 
Along with their set piece problems Sutton continued to concede crucial penalties, which allowed Newbold to first relieve the pressure in their own half and then take shots at the Sutton goal. The first penalty attempt after 9 minutes of play came back off the post and Sutton saved a certain try when a chasing Newbold player gathered the ball but although he carried the ball over the line in the ensuing scramble Sutton were able to save the try. But the writing was on the wall and with Sutton failing to take any points from their opening pressure, after a tentative start the Midlands 1 team started to grow in confidence. 
However, Sutton continued to show their attacking flair but were unable trouble the scorekeeper and a succession of penalties against Sutton kept the Rugby men in the game allowing fullback Dan O'Brien to kick Newbold into a 9-0 lead after 30 minutes of play. The first scoring penalty came on 20 minutes and the second after 25 minutes when Sutton were caught offside in front of their posts followed by a the third on 30 minutes but the serious damage was done 2 minutes before the break when Sutton cleared to touch and Newbold took the lineout on their left wing to set up a driving maul towards the Sutton try line. Sutton stopped the drive but Newbold still had possession and as the play spread in field second row Ben Thompson took the ball on at speed crashing through the Sutton defence to score to the left of the posts. Fullback Dan O'Brien added the simple conversion to give Newbold a 16-0 lead, which they carried into the break. 
Intent on raising their game Sutton were first out after the break and they started in a positive manner winning a penalty just 2 minutes after the restart, when Newbold were penalised for not releasing after the tackle. Centre Alex White stepped forward to land the 22 metre strike to put Sutton on the scoreboard at 16-3. Encouraged by the score Sutton stepped up their game but they were unable dent the burly Newbold side, who played with the confidence a winning side carries with them, at whatever level they play their sport. 
55 minutes into the game Sutton had a second penalty attempt when a Newport substitute was yellow carded but this time the 40 metre effort dipped under the bar and that proved to be the last realistic scoring chance Sutton had as on 65 minutes Newbold nailed down the coffin lid with an interception try from the halfway line. In the build up to the interception Sutton set up a promising counter attack taking play at pace into the Newbold half but the stray Sutton pass, which should have allowed the play to develop was collected by Newbold flyhalf Ethan Wookey and with Sutton out of position the fly half raced in for a try in the right corner to extend the Newbold lead to 21-3 with 15 minutes left to play. 
To their credit Sutton continued to battle on into the final period of play trying to gain a foothold in the game but although their lineout play improved during the final quarter their scrum came under increasing pressure against their much heavier opponents, who although blowing heavily had victory in sight and were not going to be denied and it was the Newbold pack who generated the final score. After a succession of scrums and forward drives in the Sutton 22 prop Ben Dawes was driven over from close range for the final try of the day to secure a 26-3 victory and the Warwickshire Championship for the Newbold club, who celebrated in style, whilst Sutton were left to learn the lessons of a very demanding season in the National Leagues and planning to return next season fitter and wiser to the ways of rugby at the higher and more demanding levels of the senior game.  
On reflection, it is hard to fault individually any of the Sutton players old and new, who have appeared for the injury hit Sutton 1st XV this season, however, collectively the team has yet to gel into a consistent and cohesive unit but hopefully this talented squad of players will stay together through the summer and train hard during the preseason programme to develop their teamwork and build on the experience they have gained this last season playing National League rugby as they prepare for a challenging start to life at level 6 in Midlands 1 West. 
As the troubled season comes to a close and we reflect on the many injuries the club has suffered through a turbulent eight months, thanks go to the many young and older players who have stepped out of their comfort zone to respond to the needs of the first team, allowing the club to at least honour the obligations of a demanding league fixture list; In particular, special mention must be made of prop Dave Smith and second/back row player Ben Bottomley, who both responded to an SOS from the injury hit senior squad in the closing weeks of the league programme and the ex first team stalwarts came out of semi retirement to help the Sutton cause. Both made an excellent contribution to the team effort alongside the young debutant players, who endured a baptism of fire and the remaining established first team players, who either avoided injury or played on through the pain and a distinct lack of match fitness due to previous injuries. Hopefully the summer recess will allow sufficient time for all the injuries to fully recover in time for the start of the preseason training programme and a fully fit and fine tuned Sutton team will be able to line up their first Midlands 1 league game in September. 
When we trust the 'Green Army' of loyal Sutton supporters will also return and continue to support the team in what we hope will be a more rewarding season for all at Sutton Coldfield RFC. 
In the meantime thanks to all the sponsors and supporters who have stood by the Sutton side during this difficult season and we look forward to restoring the famous Sutton sparkle on the field next season and putting a smile back on the face of Sutton rugby. 
... and finally thanks go to head coach Matt Nevitt, who stepped down from his coaching role earlier this year, having coached Sutton through their most successful period of rugby in the club's long history; including successive Warwickshire Cup victories in 2010 and 2011 plus promotion into the National Leagues in 2012 followed by a play-off place in successive seasons i.e. 2012/13 and 2013/14, which would have seen Sutton promoted to National 2 North, a level which the club has never achieved but victory in a play-off continues to elude Sutton, even in the good seasons. 
We all wish Matt & Marcia plus their boys well in all future endeavors at Sutton or elsewhere, both in and outside the world of rugby. 
The team, coaches and support staff wish everyone a special summer and we look forward to returning to winning ways next season.
PHOTO: FILE PIC

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