Relegation Sealed for Sutton

Birmingham & Solihull 43 - 11 Sutton Coldfield

Last Updated: Apr 11, 2016 07:31pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Birmingham & Solihull 43 pts v Sutton Coldfield 11 pts
National League 3 Midlands 
Once again the build up to last weekends game, which was Sutton's penultimate National League game for some little time, was marred by injury and availability but this time the problems were in the backs, with the team's only remaining specialist scrum half Ollie Green suffering concussion in the previous game ruling him out of the last two league games of the season and giving the Sutton coaches another headache. 
However, waiting in the wings were two young 18 year olds who had come through the Sutton junior ranks and as such both were eligible for fast track 24 hour registration at this late stage in the season...and so Paolo Parisi lined up at scrum half, making a very impressive debut in the key playmaker role with an excellent pass from the set piece plays and Max Craven, who is en route from Worcester Academe to start a professional career at Nottingham RFC in the Autumn, started at fullback and scored an excellent debut try in an impressive overall performance but unfortunately once again whilst there were many fine individual performances by the Sutton players collectively they were outplayed and outscored 7 tries to 1, by the experienced Birmingham/Solihull side, who had the sharpness of mind and pace to punish the Sutton errors in a 43-11 defeat. 
The game was played at the old Portway ground, Forshaw Heath Lane and Sutton kicked off in dry but heavy conditions with threatening overcast skies after a lunchtime shower. From the kick off Sutton drove play deep into the Birm Bee's 22 putting pressure on the opposition try line from the outset but unfortunately Sutton were judged offside at a ruck and Birmingham relieved the pressure with a long range penalty kick, which took play into the Sutton half for the first time but then a second penalty against Sutton allowed the Bee's to kick the ball into the corner for a lineout just 5 metre from the Sutton try line. 
The efficient home side pack won the attacking lineout and drove play over the Sutton line for second row Chris Goddard to claim the opening score wide out on the left. The conversion was missed but the Bee's went into a 5-0 lead after just 5 minutes of play and growing in confidence following the restart they pressed hard in the Sutton half applying sustained pressure with a series of scrums and drives for the line, which Sutton resisted strongly but once again under pressure Sutton conceded another penalty and this time the Bee's New Zealand fly half Mitch McGhan kicked to the right corner from where the home side won the ball in a well practised line out play, which they drove to the Sutton try line and flanker Darren Forder peeled off to score in the right corner.  
Again the difficult conversion was missed but Birmingham moved into a 10-0 lead after 15 minutes of play... but then came Sutton's moment as following the restart Sutton's newly installed fullback Max Craven gathered a long Birmingham clearance in his own half and immediately set off at pace on a counter attack up the Sutton left wing. Faced by the gathering opponents ahead of him the wily fullback chipped over their heads and skilfully re-gathered ball, snatching it from the hands of the Birmingham fullback as he avoided the covering defenders to race into the left corner for a spectacular try and a fine individual effort which lifted the Sutton spirits and brought them back into the game at 10-5 midway through the first half. 
Unfortunately the tricky conversion drifted wide but Sutton were back in the game. Sadly however they handed the initiative back to their hosts when miscommunication at a Sutton lineout on the halfway line gifted the ball to Birmingham and the home side wasted no time in capitalising on the gift. The ball was taken on through the middle of the lineout and distributed to fly half Mitch McGhan, who ran play up to the Sutton 22 before the ball was transferred across the back line and into the hands of left wing Mike Vessel. The winger found himself in space and he cantered in on the overlap for a well worked try, which Mitch McGhan converted to stretch the lead to 17-5 with 25 minutes played. 
Undeterred the remaining 15 minutes of the first half belonged to Sutton as they stepped up their game and under increased pressure the Bee's suffered a yellow card for a late tackle by their second row denying Sutton a try but as small compensation Sutton centre Alex White kicked the resulting penalty to close to 17-8 with 10 minutes to play to the break. Revitalised Sutton once again pushed forward but an infringement by the Portway side brought a promising build up to a premature end  and Alex White kicked the 40 metre penalty to bring Sutton within reach at 17-11 with 7 minutes left in the first half. 
The 17-11 score line remained until the halftime break with Sutton still very much in contention but a shoulder injury to flanker Rhoss Price brought prop Tom Morahan off the bench and into a reshuffled pack, which had already lost no8 Sam Harris with a hamstring injury, replaced by utility forward Lewis Snowden and then a brief shower of hail stones seemed to set the tone for the second half in which the Sutton lineout continued to stutter and with the new look scrum just about holding their own thanks to the presence of erstwhile props Dave Smith and Chris Hanley ably assisted by long serving second row Ben Bottomley, all of whom served the club during the recent golden days of Sutton rugby, but the Sutton pack was coming under increasing pressure with ever more errors creeping into the Sutton game, as typically they missed touch or failed to win possession after hard won penalties, which should have relieved the pressure in their own half simply handed possession back to their opponents, who took every chance offered to them in the final period of play. 
However, in spite of the setbacks Sutton made a strong start to the second half seeking to overturn the deficit but with more errors creeping into their game they made little progress and 15 minutes into the second half B's flanker Darren Forder went in for his second try of the day following another penalty, which was kicked for touch and driven over from a 5 metre lineout on the right touchline. The ball was grounded in field and fly half Mitch McGhan landed the conversion to extend the lead to 24-11 and then minutes later centre Jimmy Oliver was on hand to score when Birmingham kicked the ball deep into the Sutton 22. Although the lone Sutton defender was able to gather the ball in the left corner, Sutton were slow to support him and the chasing Birmingham players were first to the scene to steal the ball off the isolated Sutton player allowing the B's centre to cross for an easy try, stretching the lead to 29-11 with 22 minutes to play. 
From the restart Birmingham & Solihull mounted another irresistible attack on the Sutton try line and although Sutton defended well they eventually ran out of numbers and fullback Alex O'Malley crossed in the left corner for a well executed try and to add salt into the wound Mitch MaGhan was spot on with the touchline conversion to register a convincing 36-11 score line with 20 minutes to play. 
With the game all but lost Sutton held their heads high and continued to compete but the final nail in the coffin came on 75 minutes when after another penalty was kicked to touch leading to an attacking lineout in the Sutton 22, centre Jimmy Oliver raced through a gap in the midfield defence to score under the posts for an easy conversion by Mitch McGhan and a final score of 43-11. 
This weekend Sutton host the 'previous players' lunch and welcome old and respected rivals Bromsgrove RFC to the RSG, Walmley Road in their final game of the season at National 3 level, before stepping down to Midlands 1 rugby next season to continue their rebuilding programme at a lower but equally demanding level of rugby. KO 3pm 
Sutton other team results:
The Sutton Development side having lost many players to the first team suffered a rare 44-3 league defeat away to an unusually strong Dudley Kingswinford 2nd XV, who appeared to benefit from the cancellation of their scheduled first team fixture. 
Unfortunately the all conquering Sutton 3rd XV were denied a game when Lichfield cried off their scheduled home fixture late in the week. 


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