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Sutton Coldfield 17 - 24 Lichfield

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Jan 11, 2016 08:18pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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In their first game after the Christmas break an inspired Sutton belied their lowly league position to put visitors Lichfield under sustained pressure for much of this compelling local derby but in a close contest three basic errors at crucial points in the match cost Sutton as they slipped to a 24-17 defeat on the opening day of 2016. 
In the opening minute a charge down in the Sutton 22 led to a converted try for a 7-0 deficit, however in spite of the disastrous start Sutton took the initiative and fought back to lead 11-7 heading towards the break... but on the stroke of halftime the home side failed to react to a quickly taken tap penalty on the halfway line by Lichfield, who took Sutton by surprise causing missed tackles and the visitors took full advantage as they ran the ball down their right wing with sharp inter-passing to score in the corner from long range taking a 12-11 lead into the break against the run of play. The early play in the second half saw an exchange of penalties with Lichfield taking a 15-11 lead before Sutton again closed to within 1 point at 14-15 with 26 minutes to play... but with Sutton in the ascendency and on the attack, disaster struck again when a loose Sutton pass gifted the visitors an interception try from inside the Lichfield half stretching the lead to 22-14 midway through the second half and a penalty apiece in the closing period first by Sutton to close to 17-22, qualifying them for a losing bonus point but a final penalty by Lichfield for 25-17 denied Sutton even that compensation. 
However, in spite of the disappointment of defeat in this their opening game of 2016, Sutton live to fight another day and there was enough talent on show and really positive play by the Sutton players under difficult circumstances to believe that with 11 more games to the end of the season Sutton can win enough matches to beat the drop and with the experience they are gaining with each game the young Sutton side will prosper in the National League next season.  
To cover the details of this game; Lichfield kicked off on a rain soaked pitch, under rainy skies and the ball was driven deep into the Sutton 22. Sutton recovered the ball but the attempted clearance kick was charged down and Lichfield flanker Rhys Greene raced in to claim the try, which was converted by flyhalf Luke Massey for a 7-0 lead after just 2 minutes of play. 
Although stunned Sutton fought back and after 15 minutes of sustained pressure the home side won a penalty on the edge of the Lichfield 22. Centre Alex White struck the ball cleanly to close to 3-7 and as Sutton stepped up the pressure on their illustrious close neighbours, under pressure Lichfield suffered a yellow card for a dangerously high tackle midway through the first half. With a man advantage Sutton again piled on the pressure in the Lichfield 22 but the visitors defended well and Sutton had to settle for a second Alex White penalty in side the Lichfield 22 to close to 6-7 with 15 minutes to play to the break. 
Three minutes later a second yellow card was served on Lichfield for killing the ball as they struggled to resist the Sutton pressure before Sutton took an 11-7 lead when outside centre Tom McNamee raced down the Sutton right wing to score in the corner after a flowing move, which swung the ball from left to right across the Lichfield 22 setting up the decisive charge to the try line by the fast moving centre 5 minutes before the break. 
Encouraged by their positive play and on taking the lead with half time rapidly approaching, Sutton were guilty of relaxing and on the stroke of halftime quick thinking Lichfield took full advantage with a quickly taken tap penalty, which they ran down the right wing. Sutton were taken by surprise and offered little resistance as outside centre Greg Massey raced into the corner for a smartly taken try. 
The last play of the first half saw the well struck touchline conversion attempt by brother Luke Massey bounce back off the upright but the try was enough to give Lichfield a 12-11 going into the break with Sutton still very much in contention. 
10 minutes into the second half Luke Massey extended the Lichfield lead to 15-11 but 4 minutes later Alex White replied with a Sutton penalty to keep the Sutton side in contention at 14-15 but as Sutton mounted a promising attack moving left to right across the Lichfield 10 metre line a loose pass was snapped up by scrumhalf Will Cotterhill, who raced 60 metres to score the killer try under posts allowing Luke Massey an easy conversion to leave Sutton trailing 22-14 with 22 minutes to play. 
Sutton pressed on in the closing period and with 14 minutes left to play the home side closed to 17-22 when Lichfield were caught off side in front of the posts and with Alex White injured in the build up fellow centre Tom McNamee stepped up to slot home the penalty and bring Sutton within 5 points, qualifying for a losing bonus point but in the closing period with 8 minutes to play Sutton suffered a yellow card and so they were destined to play out the remainder of the game a man short. 
During this difficult final period Sutton failed to turn the game around and Luke Massey completed the scoring with a final penalty for a 25-17 score line but Sutton can be proud of their overall performance and supporters can look forward to enough victories in the remaining 11 matches to beat the drop and continue a more successful campaign in the National League 3 next season. 
Sutton's season continues this weekend with a trip to Longton RFC, Stoke on Trent looking to return to winning ways against another team who have not been in their best form this season. KO 2.15 pm.
 
Sutton other team results and Cup news:
  
The Sutton Development Side took on Leamington RFC 2nd XV on Sunday 10th Jan in the semi-final of the Warwickshire 2nd Team Trophy and the young Sutton side completed the win to move on into another final to once again defend the Warwickshire 2nd Team Trophy they hold, for the fourth consecutive season.  
On this occasion the Sutton Development side will face Nuneaton in the final, which is due to be played on Sunday 7th Feb with the venue still to be named... but the Sutton 1st XV are also through to the final of the Warwickshire Senior Cup against Newbold RFC, who beat Nuneaton in the semi-final the previous weekend. However, in this seasons WRFU handbook the two finals are scheduled to be played on the same day and with Sutton teams through to both finals the commitment on players will put a serious strain on the senior squad with 44 players required to cover both teams plus 7 subs for each final. So Sutton are seeking to have one of the games played at a later date to avoid the clash. Watch this space!

Photo: File pic

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