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Sutton Coldfield 20 - 59 Bromsgrove

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Apr 18, 2016 08:02pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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As a difficult and testing league season came to a disappointing end last Saturday, the many young Sutton players who by necessity were propelled from the Sutton youth & development teams straight into the first XV to play in the National League's, suffered a baptism of fire due to key player moving away from the area or retiring over the past two seasons and the constantly growing injury list affecting new and established players during this season... but although losing to bigger and more experienced teams through a punishing season, the talented teenage players and other debutants aided by a sprinkling of recalled players, who were all excellent in their respective roles, showed the true character and resilience of all the players, albeit in a losing cause. 

On Saturday 5th Sept 2015 a new look young Sutton side made a promising start to the new season with a narrow 32-31 defeat away to a strong Bromsgrove team but unfortunately Sutton were unable to build on their commendable opening performance and last weekend their troubled season game to an end with a 59-20 defeat at the hands of old rivals Bromsgrove in the return fixture. 
Bromsgrove kicked off in Sutton's final game at National 3 level for the time being in bright sunshine and after the recent rains the pitch was in remarkably good condition with a slight breeze in Sutton's favour. At the kick off there was a feeling of hope and anticipation from the home crowd, which was swelled by the past and former players who had enjoyed their annual lunch before the match. 
Once again Sutton made a spirited start taking play back into Bromsgrove territory and applying sustained pressure in the opening exchanges. Although Sutton created chances in this opening period they were thwarted each time the chance appeared and denied the score they needed to boost their confidence. Typically an excellent break by fullback Max Craven after entering the line from deep took play into the visitors half and a perfectly timed pass to left wing Joe Gregory saw the energetic winger tackled into touch short of the line and a number of other promising breaks were frustratingly called back for a forward pass or similar infringement.  
Then 10 minutes into the game, whilst setting up an attack in the opposition half Sutton lost the ball in midfield and with the home players lined up in attack, Bromsgrove quickly counter attacked catching Sutton out of position as fullback Tom Hunt raced into the left corner for an opening score and although the conversion drifted wide Bromsgrove took a 5-0 lead against the run of play. 
In spite of the setback Sutton continued to compete well through their backs and forwards, leading to a penalty chance for centre Alex White, who brought Sutton back into the game at 3-5 with a well struck 40 metre strike from midfield after 20 minutes of play but although Sutton tried hard to take the lead they were denied by another forward pass and on 24 minutes it was the visitors who moved the scoreboard on to 12-3 with a try for no8 Phil Horton, converted by fly half James Upton after Bromsgrove surged up field and the burly no8 broke clear to score to the left of the posts. 
Frustration boiled over on 26 minutes and a player from each side was banished to the sin bin for 10 minutes after a mass brawl broke out but then just 2 minutes later young winger Sam Bastock scored an outstanding solo try as the right wing gathered the ball in his own half and went on a weaving 60 metre run to the line cutting infield to give James Upton an easier conversion and Bromsgrove a comfortable 19-3 lead, which was extended to 26-3 just 4 minutes later when the Bromsgrove backs opened up the Sutton defence to create a 3 man overlap and centre Craig Mortelmans raced in for the try to the left of the posts, with James Upton adding the conversion 8 minutes to the break. 
But once again Sutton rallied and responded well with possession from a good lineout leading to a drive up field into the visitors 22 and as the ball was worked free centre Ollie Chitnis worked his way over for try to the left of the posts. Alex White added the conversion to bring Sutton back to 10-26 with 5 minutes to go to the break. 
There was no further score before the players left the field for the halftime break but it was Bromsgrove who made the brighter start to the second half with another try for livewire fullback Tom Hunt, who raced into the right corner after a passage of play which started in midfield and fly half James Upton added the difficult touchline conversion to hurt Sutton more with a 33-10 score line just 5 minutes into the second period. 
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure and from a lineout on the Sutton 22 Bromsgrove claimed the ball and drove purposefully towards the Sutton try line before openside flanker Mike McPherson broke off to score to the right of the posts and James Upton added the conversion to stretch the visitors lead to a daunting 40-10 with 25 minutes to play. 
As if the convincing lead wasn't enough, an over excited Bromsgrove substitute swung a punch at a Sutton player just after coming on and received  a red card for his indiscretion. The event gave Sutton an extra man for the final 22 minutes but the damage was already done and although Sutton fought back quickly with a fine individual try by scrum half Paolo Parisi, who took a quick tap penalty on the Bromsgrove line and wormed his way over for an encouraging score to bring Sutton back to 40-15, just 5 minutes later Bromsgrove struck back with a second try for no8 Phil Horton, who raced in under the posts to give James Upton an easy conversion and the South Birmingham side a 47-15 lead. 
With 10 minutes left in the game Bromsgrove created another try for fullback Tom Hunt when fly half James Upton received the ball on the Sutton 22 wide out on the left wing and launched an inch perfect cross field kick. The fullback skilfully gathered the ball in flight and went over in the right corner for an outstanding score, which completed his hat-trick and to cap it all the fly half landed the touchline conversion to put his team 54-15 ahead.  
Again, even at this late stage the spirited Sutton side still played with determination as they drove play into the Bromsgrove 22 and fashioned a score when centre Alex White chipped the ball through the Bromsgrove defence for Tom McNamee to gather and race in for a well worked consolation try in the corner bringing the score to 54-20 with 3 minutes left play... but the visitors had the last word with a minute to play when following the restart Bromsgrove claimed the ball and raced down the right wing and over the try line before a generous scoring pass to Gino Belmonte allowed the hard working hooker the privilege of scoring the final try in a 9 tries to 3, 59-20  victory to end Sutton's season. 
And so Sutton's taste of top flight rugby comes to an end after 4 seasons in the National Leagues. Sutton now prepare for life back in the Regional League structure as they slip down a level to level 6, Midlands 1 West, and hopefully they can use the summer months to regroup and return stronger next season. So like the fabled 'Phoenix', it is for Sutton to rise from the ashes of this season and with the experience gained from playing in the National Leagues they undoubtedly have the ability to go on to dominate in their new league but although in a lower league there will be no easy games and a win must be earned on the training pitch as much as on match days.
Notably, history could be repeating itself as in 2003 Sutton won the Warwickshire Cup but were also relegated from Midlands 2 West into Midlands 3 North West. This weekend Sutton again have a chance to end the season on a high when they face Newbold on Avon in the Warwickshire Cup Final at the Butts Park Arena, Coventry RFC on Sunday 24th April 2016. KO 3pm. 
The game will be an early chance for Sutton to measure themselves against highly placed Midlands 1 opposition as Newbold just missed out on a play-off place finishing third in Midlands 1 East this season. So the Cup Final should be a keen competition between two teams from opposite ends of different leagues, both determined to have something to show at the end of a hard and demanding season. All support welcome - pay on the gate for a compelling contest between old rivals.

 
Sutton other team results:
 
Unfortunately the Sutton Development side's game was cried off but the excellent Sutton 3rd XV flew the Sutton flag proudly away to a strong Bournville 2nd XV side and in spite of a desperate opening 10 minutes and a 26-0 deficit at half time the Sutton side fought back in an outstanding second half performance to close to 35-33, just failing to tip the balance at the end of an exciting and thoroughly entertaining match.

PHOTO: FILE PIC

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