SCRFC 23 v 22 Old Northamptonians

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Nov 9, 2015 06:27pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Sutton Coldfield RFC 23 pts v Old Northamptonians 22 pts
National League 3 Midlands 
After a close run contest between two decent teams, who are both enduring a difficult start to the season and with each searching for a winning formula which would take them to safety in a very strong National league table, thankfully in this enthralling bottom of the table clash it was Sutton who snatched victory with a dramatic drop goal by fly half Alex White in the last seconds of injury time to secure a crucial and morale boosting 23-22 win.
In the build up to the game the morning rain eased and with the arrival of Old Northants the sunshine appeared in time for the early 2.15 KO, so the game was played in dry but blustery conditions and as testament to the ground staff the pitch played well considering the recent rain and the ravages of the happy hordes of people, who had attended the very successful annual bonfire, firework display and funfair held at the RSG, just two days earlier on Thursday 5th Nov.
Following a respectful I minute silence to honour Remembrance Day, Sutton kicked off and applied sustained pressure in the Old Northamptonians half of the pitch during the opening exchanges with the Sutton scrum proving strong and the lineout working well under the influence of newly returned hooker Chris Pemble, who was making a welcome return to the Sutton 1st XV after many years touring the globe having spent a lot of time in the Far East. In and around his travels Chris has been associated with SCRFC throughout his playing career and he played at junior/senior level in the 90's/early 2000 and signed for the Senior Squad in July 2008.
Since his return this season, whilst recovering from injury Chris has been acting very effectively as forwards coach and last Saturday saw his successful debut providing a positive contribution on the field. The game also saw the welcome return of Adam Bennett, a regular first choice player from previous seasons and once again he brought passion and drive to the Sutton game along with winger Rob Watts, who returned to first team action after a troublesome hamstring injury kept him out of the action.
Again fielding another new line up with the new starters mentioned in the above paragraphs slotting in alongside this season's new recruits plus the talented young players promoted from the Sutton development side and the established players, the Sutton team had a good blend of youth and experience and they made a good start to the game. After 10 minutes of sustained pressure Old Northamptonians conceded a penalty in midfield and fly half Alex White kicked the goal from 35 metres to give Sutton an early 3-0 lead.
However, although Sutton were playing well for the first part they were caught out when a Sutton kick ahead deep into the visitors 22 was caught cleanly and a mark called. From the mark Northants took a quick tap and ran the ball up the right wing evading would be first up tacklers to setup a strong counteract. The ball was run strongly into the Sutton 22 and slipped inside to fast moving flanker Tim Cardall, who crossed under the Sutton posts to demonstrate the threat all teams provide at National 3 level 5.
Fly half James Grayson added the conversion to give the visitors a 7-3 lead 18 minutes into the contest and Old Northamtonians continued to press with strong attacking runs but the Sutton defence held strong. Unfortunately during this period of play Sutton conceded too many penalties and eventually suffered a yellow card for tackling a player from an offside position 10 minutes before the break but 2 minutes later things were evened up when Northants also suffered a yellow card.
After the disruptions Sutton stepped up their game and drove play into the Old Northants 22 setting up a 5 metre scrum. Sutton dominated the 7 aside scrum to the point that their opponents buckled as Sutton drove them backwards winning a penalty try, which was converted by Alex White to give Sutton a 10-7 lead, which they held going into half time.
However, once again the visitors bounced back and a knock on by Sutton was picked up to set up an attack, which sent centre and captain Alex Crofts in for a try on the right wing. The conversion drifted wide in a difficult wind but Northants took a 12-10 lead just 2 minutes into the second half.
In a constantly changing game the pendulum swung back in Sutton's favour and just 5 minutes after the visitors took the lead the home side snatched the lead back with a piece of individual skill by 18 year old winger Ollie Chitnis, who made the extra man to race into the corner for an outstanding try after great approach work by the Sutton attack force led by illusive fullback Nathan Burchell.
Unfortunately the well struck conversion drifted wide in the blustery wind but Ollie's try gave Sutton a narrow 15-12 lead 7 minutes into the second period of play but from this point the game ebbed and flowed for the 18 minutes with neither side taking control until Sutton took the initiative with a flowing attack and quick hands took play up to the Northants 22. The ball was delivered at speed into the hands of right wing Ollie Chitnis inside the visitors 22 and the confident youngster brilliantly beat 2 defenders on the try line to squeeze into the corner for an outstanding score, which stretched Sutton's lead to 20-12 with 15 minutes to play.
Although Sutton appeared to be in the ascendency at this point with an 8 point lead, Old Northamptonians showed their character as they fought back with a 25 metre penalty by fly half James Grayson, when Sutton were caught offside in midfield on 70 minutes for 20-15 and then with only minutes left on the clock Sutton conceded a penalty and Grayson kicked accurately into the right corner. Old Northants won the lineout and drove for the line with second row Phil Beaumont peeling off to level the score at 20-20 with the conversion to come.
Faced with a daunting touchline conversion wide out on the right wing to win the game, Old Northamptonians 17 year old James Grayson struck the ball perfectly to defy the troublesome wind and bisect the posts to all but win the game. 
However, with only 2 minutes left Sutton were now faced with having the game snatched away from them as they chased the restart kick into the opposition half winning a penalty some 30 metres out on the left wing but although the penalty could win the game the distance and kicking against the difficult wind made the odds very high so captain Jonathan Raistrick and goal kicker Alex White opted for a kick to the corner. Happily newly installed hooker Chris Pemble found his man on the pressure throw and the ball was taken safely into Sutton hands. As the maul drove forward scrum half Tom Harris sent the ball out to fly half Alex White stationed strategically just outside the 22 in midfield and with a clean sweep of his right leg the fly half sent the ball high into the air bound for the posts and although it seemed to hang in the air for an agonisingly long time the ball cleared the bar and the referee blew for the winning score and the end of the game simultaneously... starting celebrations for Sutton and commiserations for a the brave visitors, who competed well throughout the game and were generous in defeat, after so many narrow defeats this season!
This weekend Sutton travel to Peterborough looking to build on their success and release the real potential of their evolving team backed by a great squad of talented players, who on their day are a match for any opposition in this league.
Winter KO times are now 2.15 pm with the next home game at the RSG against Sandbach on 21st Nov 2015.
Sutton other team results:
Old Northamptonians brought their first and second teams on a coach outing to the West Milands... and the Sutton development side followed the 1st XV into the winners enclosure after an equally close contest between the Sutton second string and Old Northamptonians 2nd XV.
Sutton celebrated a 50-45 victory with winger Dion Taylor completing a fine hat-trick of tries and Danny Bancroft adding the winning score after an evenly balanced contest with the visitors denied once again in the dying moments of the friendly second team fixture.
Unfortunately Sutton 3rd XV found Stourbridge Lions 2nd XV too strong on a disappointing day for the Sutton side, who competed well in a tough contest, which resulted in a 10-40 defeat.


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