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Sutton Coldfield 20 v 12 Sandbach

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2015 09:31am
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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After the close results of recent weeks, which went for and against Sutton respectively, last weekend saw a revitalised and attack minded Sutton return to winning ways with an impressive 20-12 victory over visitors Sandbach, who played a full part in an entertaining and competitive contest.
 
After a springing of snow the previous evening, match day produced a cold bright day with good playing conditions underfoot, ideal for an open game of running rugby which suited both sides and they did not disappoint the expectant crowd, who were entertained by the attacking spirit on show from the two well matched teams.
 
Sandbach kicked off and for the first 15 minutes the game ebbed and flowed between the respective 22 metre lines with neither side dominating the early play as the teams cancelled out each other's efforts in the early forward exchanges and the back play respectively with neither side taking the initiative... until midway through the first half a dynamic run down the left wing by powerful winger Rob Watts took play into the Sandbach half and quick support by the Sutton pack took the ball on, driving play into midfield. Ripping the ball free from the driving maul 2nd row George Ord made the decisive break as he powered through the Sandbach defensive wall and raced into the visitors 22. Drawing the final defender the fast moving 2nd row delivered the perfect pass to his supporting back row colleague Rhoss Price, who completed the run to the line and despite the close attention of the covering defence he skilfully grounded the ball by the posts for an excellent try.
 
Fly Half Alex White added the conversion to give Sutton a 7-0 lead after 20 minutes of play but unfortunately shortly after demonstrating their attacking skills with an excellent well worked try, Sutton were caught out and wrong footed when following the restart the Sandbach left wing Elliot Morris showed excellent awareness and illusive running skills as he ran the ball down the left wing evading the would be Sutton tacklers over a 30 metre distance to cross in the corner and run round under the posts for an outstanding solo effort by the audacious  18 year old. Fullback Stuart Butters added the simple conversion to level the scores at 7-7 with 25 minutes played.
 
With the game in the balance Sutton stepped up their play and as the clock ticked towards halftime the increased pressure won Sutton a penalty in midfield 30 metres out and Alex White lifted Sutton into a 10-7 lead with a well directed strike 2 minutes before the break. Although time was short Sutton re-gathered the restart kick and immediately went on the attack with a long range probing kick from Alex White. The ball bounced deep into the Sandbach 22 and the accuracy of the kick plus the high speed chase by team captain and centre Jonny Raistrick put the Sandbach defenders under extreme pressure. As the speeding centre closed in on them the pressure told, causing a fumble and the ball was spilled allowing Alex White to follow up and claim the loose ball to feed left wing Rob Watts, who celebrated his return to regular first team duty by racing into the corner for an outstanding try.
 
With the final action of an excellent first half Alex White lined up and completed a superb touchline conversion to stretch Sutton's lead to 17-7 as both teams left the field for the warmth of the dressing room and a well earned break.
 
Although Sutton ended the first half on a high it was Sandbach, who made the better start to the second half with a try in the left corner following a counter attack down the left wing. In the build up to the try Sandbach took the restart kick off and drove play back into the Sutton half before releasing their backs who took play deep into Sutton territory. Sutton stopped the initial attack but Sandbach rallied to drive the ball forward before hooker Zac Jones broke blind and raced towards the Sutton try line however, Sutton right wing Miles Gregory made a valiant last ditch tackle to drag the hooker into touch short of the line but unfortunately the referee gave the benefit of the doubt to the attacking player and awarded the try, which closed the score to 17-12 with only 2 minutes of the second half played.
 
Faced with a very important final forty minutes in this must win match, Sutton showed true character and discipline as they set about defending their lead and securing the game with an excellent second half performance. The Sutton resolve was clearly demonstrated by all the players but Sutton's youthful back row of Kinsey Stoddard (22) at no6, Rhoss Price (20) at no7 and man of the match Jack Woodcock (24) at no8 were particularly outstanding ably assisted by the 2nd row combo of George Ord and Dave Merlin respectively. The front row comprising props Stuart Collard and Liam Hills performed well in the set scrums with penetrating runs in the loose play plus a notable performance from replacement hooker Jonny Ursell, who came off the bench only a few minutes into the game when having started at hooker, Chris Pemble suffered a knee injury during the early exchanges.
 
Alongside the admirable Sutton pack, the backs led by skipper Jon Raistrick performed their duties well both in defence and attack and together the team stood strong to counter the Sandbach fight back, which to the credit of the visitors was persistent and determined but Sutton were up to the task as they held firm and midway through the final period Sutton were awarded another penalty allowing Alex White to stretch the lead to a critical 8 points at 20-12 with 15 minutes left to play.
 
Sutton managed the final period of play with maturity and rugby intelligence beyond their years to close out the game with a deserved 20-12 victory and much needed league points to take Sutton off the bottom of the table.
 
This weekend Sutton travel to North Lincolnshire to face a strong Scunthorpe team, who sit third in the current league table but on last weekends performance Sutton have the strength and ability to return with another victory. KO 2.15pm.
 
Sutton other team results:
 
The Sutton Development side travelled to Longton RFC to face a strong 2nd XV in the Reserve Team league and although they produced an outstanding performance in the second half after a poor first period, Sutton fell just short of overhauling their hosts at 27-24 and missed the chance of going second in the league, which a win would have achieved. However, Sutton have a game in hand and second place is still within their grasp!
 
Sutton 3rd XV hosted Bournville 2nd XV and recorded an excellent 42-10 victory to boost their excellent playing record.    

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