Sutton Coldfield 14 v 26 Longton RFC

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Sep 30, 2015 07:06pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Sutton Coldfield 1st XV's early season woes worsened last weekend as they replaced opponents Longton RFC at the foot of the table after they lost a crucial bottom of the table clash 14-26, having surrendered a precious losing bonus point and gifted their opponents a fourth try and an equally precious try scoring bonus point deep into injury time in this battle at the bottom of the league. The result lifted Longton off the bottom into 12th place, where Sutton started the day but the lost bonus point and final converted try against them plummeted Sutton to the bottom in 14th place. At least after a difficult start to the season,  for Sutton now the only way is up!!
Sutton started the game strongly kicking off and applying sustained pressure in the Longton half, which lead to a try for Tom McNamee, who normally operates in the centre but showed he is equally effective on the right wing as he forced his way over in the corner after an excellent 30 metre break by fullback Ben Ollivier set up the try, driving play deep into the Longton 22. Flyhalf Ben Morgan added an excellent touchline conversion to give Sutton the perfect start and a 7-0 lead after just 5 minutes of play.
However Longton, who have a powerful pack and strong running backs begging the question why they were ever bottom of the table, fought back and a penalty against Sutton in midfield was kicked into the Sutton 22 for an attacking lineout. The Longton pack won the ball and drove for the Sutton try line. Although Sutton stopped the drive short of the line they conceded another penalty and scrum half Dan Jones took a quick tap penalty and darted over for a smart try, which was converted by fullback Grant Hallam from close to the posts to level the scores at 7-7 after 10 minutes of play.
For the next 25 minutes the game ebbed and flowed with neither side adding to the scoreboard, although Sutton came close midway through the half when centre Alex White made a dramatic burst for the line but in spite of his size he was stopped and denied a score under the posts. Longton won the ensuing scrum and cleared the danger putting Sutton back in their own half again. 
Although Sutton showed some of their strengths and threat during this period of play, with fly half Ben Morgan marshalling the backs well and putting in some important tackles on bigger opponents, the pack were under pressure in the scrums and the Sutton game just would not flow with basic mistakes and penalties cancelling all the good work that had gone before... but then 25 minutes in Sutton suffered a further blow when hooker Jon Ursell had to leave the field with damaged ribs and with him went Sutton's hopes at the lineout leaving Sutton with a solid front row but no practised player able to throw in effectively on their own lineout!
With Sutton struggling to adjust to the new front row line up Longton full took advantage at a Sutton defensive scrum 10 metres out, taking the ball against the head. As the Longton no8 picked up and drove for the try line he off loaded to scrum half Dan Jones who was following up and the lively scrum half crossed under the posts for his second try of the day. Fullback Grant Hallam added the simple conversion to give the visitors a 14-7 lead 5 minutes before the break but the fullback then went on to support a devastating run by scrum half Dan Jones, who broke out of his 22 and raced 50 metres before off loading to Hallam, who completed the run to the line. The fullback failed to convert his own try but at the break Longton had extended their lead to 19-7.
Whilst the second half saw plenty of action, all the drama came in the final two minutes of the scheduled 80 minutes plus injury time, with Sutton scoring a converted try to close to 14-19 securing a losing bonus point with just 2 minutes to play. The try was scored by prop turned hooker Liam Hills after Sutton parked their tanks in the Longton 22 and they finally broke down the visitors resistance after sustained pressure allowing the versatile prop to scramble over the try line for a try under the posts. Centre Alex White added the conversion to close to within 5 points securing the much needed bonus point.   
However, following the restart Longton reversed the process and drove play deep into the Sutton 22 throwing everything they had at the Sutton try line and to their great credit the Sutton defence held strong winning a hard earned penalty, which would have allowed them to clear their line and secure the bonus point...But deep into injury time in a misguided moment of overenthusiastic madness, instead of clearing to touch to end the game at 19-14, still chasing the illusive victory Sutton bravely tried to run the ball from their own try line seeking a winning try and conversion instead of settling for what they had, which would have kept them off the bottom of the table. Unfortunately the ball was dropped in front of their own posts allowing Longton to gather the ball and prop George Glenn charged over for the try from close range. Grant Hallam added the conversion to close the game at 14-26.
Philosophically, it is worth noting that in rugby whilst one player can win a game with a late try, conversion or a penalty at the death, it takes more than one man to lose or forfeit a result. It is the team who have created the loss by not taking their chances earlier in the game and any one player should not be in the position where a simple error of judgement or mistake effects the final outcome in the closing minutes of the match.
Although Sutton now sit at the bottom of the National 3 league table all is not gloom and doom because the club have very good new and established players, who have not yet jelled into a winning team but they will and the signs are encouraging, with young players like Miles Gregory making an impressive debut on the wing in this game, with some strong tackles and fine attacking runs to his credit along with an excellent second game for 2nd row Josh Bailey, who made his debut the previous week at Lichfield, both of them graduating from the Sutton youth sides and Development squad this season. Once Sutton break their duck they can go on to greater things. In a previous era a much changed new look Sutton team lost every game up to the game before Christmas and then won every game thereafter to the end of the season. The first game they won was against Newport RFC, who by strange coincidence are the opponents this weekend!!
Also this weekend Sutton ring the changes by mutual agreement with Newport, moving the scheduled game from Saturday to a Friday night fixture under floodlights, to leave Saturday free for the all important England v Australia World Cup encounter. 
The Sutton/Newport game will be played at Market Drayton Rugby Club, Greenfields Sports Ground, Greenfield Lane, Market Drayton, Shropshire. TF9 3SL. KO 8pm.    


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