Sutton Coldfield 29 v Scunthorpe 13

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Nov 13, 2013 08:29am
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Sutton 1st XV took another decisive step along the road to recovery, after 3 disappointing defeats early in the season, as they continued their resurgence with a convincing 29-13 bonus point victory over visitors Scunthorpe, who, in spite of their lowly league status, provided stern opposition but it was the home side who dictated play in an entertaining contest played in excellent playing conditions in front of a good natured crowd on a pleasant Autumnal afternoon, at the RSG, Walmley Road.

Happily, thanks to the efforts of Tom Jones, SCRFC's House and Grounds Manager and his team of contacts and helpers, the pitch was made ready for the game after the trauma of accommodating the heavy plant of the funfair and 4000 pairs of feet attending the bonfire and fireworks display on the previous Tuesday to celebrate the 5th November in traditional style. The event was very successful and the pitch recovered to enable the competing teams in the Saturday fixture to enjoy a good playing surface. 

Before kick off both teams and their supporters stood in silence as they paid their respects to the fallen in all modern conflicts since the start of WW1 with a perfectly observed minute's silence in acknowledgement of Remembrance Day on Monday 11th November.

After the mark of respect the Sutton forwards received the kickoff and Sutton drove play back into the Scunthorpe 22 with a well executed kick from centre Josh Groom which led to a clear scoring opportunity but an unfortunate knock on prevented Sutton starting with an instant score and the visitors cleared their lines. Play fluctuated for the next 10 minutes as both sides sized up their opposite number and with the packs well matched in the forward exchanges neither side was able to make a breakthrough... until on 15 minutes Sutton's skipper and fullback, Dave Edwards scored a captains try to break the deadlock as he raced into the right corner following a solid Sutton ruck in midfield and quick transfer of the ball through halfbacks Mark Rayner and Josh Rolls respectively, which put the flying fullback into space for an excellent opening try. Centre Josh Groom added an inch perfect conversion from the difficult side of the posts for a right footed kicker, to give Sutton an encouraging 7-0 lead. 

Sutton's standout player of the season so far is surely Simon Millard for, with team selection influenced week after week by early season injuries, the versatile forward  and consummate clubman had already played with distinction at 6 and then 8 in the back row, his favoured position but he has also filled in with great effect in the 2nd row and last Saturday he completed the set by playing in the front row at open side prop, from where he scored a brace of tries as well as propping up the scrum in a match winning performance.

The first Millard try came after 25 minutes when a break by centre Josh Groom took play from the halfway line into the visitors 22 where Sutton won a penalty for offside...but instead of taking the 3 points Sutton kicked into the left corner for a lineout and after winning the ensuing throw they drove for the try line. The Scunthorpe scrambled defence stopped the drive but scrumhalf Mark Rayner retrieved the ball and broke wide to find the charging Millard in close support. The stand in prop powered over from close range for an excellent try to the left of the posts, which Josh Groom converted to stretch Sutton's lead to 14-0 and then 10 minutes later the lively prop claimed his second try when fullback Dave Edwards made a decisive run up the Sutton right wing but the ball was scrambled into touch for another Sutton throw. Again Sutton won the ball and drove for the line with Simon Millard on hand to claim the try which was again converted by Josh Groom extending Sutton's lead to 21-0 going into the break.

The new look Sutton scrum competed well against a strong opposing pack and with hooker Jamie Scott to the fore in the scrum and lineouts, throwing in well at the lineout to jumpers Steve McCormack, Adam Bennett and Fraser Tait, who has been an inspiration and a telling influence since his welcome return from injury, the Sutton pack had a good afternoon providing a solid platform from which the side could dominate play with a mature and disciplined team performance which is noticeably growing in confidence and self belief again.

Although fiercely fought the second period was a quieter affair with the visitors gaining a consolation try through no8 Nick Syddall after a drive for the try line following a quickly taken tap penalty from 5 metres to close the gap to 21-5 after 8 minutes of play in the second half but Sutton responded immediately with a penalty by Josh Groom for 24-5 and then midway through the final period openside flanker Luke Stewart capped a series of excellent performances since his introduction to the 1st XV this season, with a well taken try. The finely executed try started on the left wing before play was switched across the midfield, to be carried into the opposition 22 via a fine penetrating run down the right wing by fullback Dave Edwards who then found support from his forwards. The Sutton pack took the ball on rumbling infield and the young Luke Stewart was on hand to apply the perfect finish to an inspired piece of rugby, which extended Sutton's lead to the winning margin of 29-5 plus a bonus point for the all important 4th try.

The final quarter of the game saw plenty of action but no further score as the Sutton defence held firm against a defiant final onslaught from a capable Scunthorpe side determined to rescue something from the game but the Sutton tackling was relentless and the game drew to a close with the visitors forced to concede an honourable defeat to a Sutton side who appear to have found their rhythm and composure enabling them to once again control games and progress back up the table. Sutton now trail league leaders Old Halesonians by just 4 points, for although Old Hales won last weekend they failed to secure a bonus point and Sutton are now joint 4th alongside Broadstreet and are only 2 points behind the joint 2nd and 3rd place teams, who are now Nuneaton and Hinckley respectively, both level on points in a very tight contest with 10 out of 26 games played and only 4 points separating the top 5 teams.

Sutton 1st XV have a break from the rigours of league rugby this weekend but after a much needed rest they return to serious league action with a challenging encounter at South Leicester RFC, who sit one place below Sutton in 6th place but 7 points behind the Sutton side. So much to play for on 23rd Nov if Sutton are to maintain their challenge for the top spot!

All travelling support welcome for what could be another festival of fireworks rugby style. KO 2.15           



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