Sutton slip into relegation zone

Whitchurch RFC 29 v 0 Sutton Coldfield

Last Updated: Nov 8, 2016 05:44pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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Whitchurch RFC 29 pts v Sutton Coldfield 0 pts

Midlands 1 West


A lack lustre performance by an out of sorts Sutton saw the under performing Sutton side slip into the relegation zone for the first time this season following a 29-0 defeat by fellow strugglers Whitchurch, who at the start of play were 1 place and 1 point above Sutton in 10th place with Sutton 11th in a league of 14 teams. 

Faced with an opposition in a similar position to themselves, in the lower quarter of the league table it was the home side Whitchurch, who found the extra drive and fire to build on their success from the previous week when they unexpectedly beat a Stratford side who were in third place and the boost from that victory and now a bonus point win over Sutton has propelled Whitchurch up to 8th in the league, which shows what a difference a single win can make in a tight contest at the bottom of the league table. A much needed win for Sutton can turn their season around improving their league position and also their playing confidence, which is currently costing the talented Sutton side heavily as they struggle to find the form that will save their season and a win will make all the difference. 

The Sutton playing record after 9 out of 26 games reads; won 2, gained a losing bonus point in 4 games and lost just 3 games by a significant margin, so Sutton are not that far off the pace and with 17 games to play to the end of the season they have every opportunity to raise their game and start a winning sequence that will carry them to safety through the second half of a challenging season. 

Reporting on the game itself, Whitchurch kicked off on a dry, bright day playing into a gusting wind and the fired up home side charged into the Sutton 22 to apply the early pressure but Sutton defended well against the initial onslaught. However, 3 minutes into the game Whitchurch found space on their right wing and it took a try saving tackle by fly half Alex White in the Sutton 22 to prevent the opening score but Whitchurch were quick to the breakdown and they recycled the ball to continue the attack. They then took advantage of a missed tackle in midfield which allowed flanker Jimmy Hocken to race in for a shock try under the posts. 

Surprisingly the conversion was missed but Sutton found themselves 5-0 down after just 3 minutes play and their opponents and their focal supporters were inspired by the early score. From the restart Whitchurch kept up the pressure on Sutton with some strong running by the lively backs but handling errors saved Sutton. For their part Sutton struggled to find any cohesion and were unable to use the wind to any good effect but 10 minutes into the game scrum half Ben Morgan tried to use the wind with an ambitious 48 metre penalty kick for goal when Whitchurch were penalised in midfield. Unfortunately, whilst the kick was on target the ball dipped just under the bar and that was to be the closest Sutton came to scoring on a disappointing day. 

During a disrupted first half the flow of the game was interrupted by a series of penalties against both sides but in the final count back it was Sutton who offended most especially in the second half when they were overzealous in their desperate search for a consolation try to salvage something for their efforts. 

With the opening try scored on 3 minutes, the next try fell to no 8 Williams on 25 minutes following a 5 metre scrum on the Sutton try line, which Whitchurch drove over in the left corner to extend the lead to 10-0 and then with halftime approaching replacement prop Ian Gillespie broke clear from a maul on the left wing and showed his mobility in a short dash into the corner for a third home try. 

With all three conversions missed the home side went into halftime leading 15-0, which Whitchurch extended to 22-0  just 5 minutes after the restart, when Sutton lost the ball on contact in their 22 and gaining possession the Whitchurch 2nd row chipped through for winger Sam Kendle to race in for a bonus point try, which was converted by scrum half David (Rhys) Roberts.  

During the next 30 minute period of the game with the visitors chasing down a 22-0 deficit, Sutton stepped up their game and there followed an excellent period of play by Sutton with sustained passages of positive play, which on too many occasions saw sweeping moves take play deep into the Whitchurch 22 but all too often the play ended with a penalty against Sutton at the breakdown and the ball was cleared back into the Sutton half for Sutton to start all over again. 

With the end of the game drawing close Whitchurch regained the initiative and drove over the Sutton try line but the ball was held up over the line and Whitchurch were awarded  a 5 metre scrum. Sutton held the scrum up but scrum half Rhys Roberts picked up at the base of the scrum and squirmed over for a final try, which he converted himself to close the game at 29-0. 

On the plus side for Sutton the game saw the return of Alex White after recent knee surgery and a first start of the season for French full back Ben Ollivier, who played for Sutton last season. The game also saw a first team debut from the bench for Thomas (TJ) Allwood, who graduated to the 1st XV after excellent performances in the Development Squad. 

Sutton take a break from the rigours of league rugby this weekend and return to league action at the Roger Smoldon Memorial Ground on Saturday 19th November 2016 when Wolverhampton RFC are the visitors. KO 2.15 pm.

Match day photograph: Thomas (TJ) Allwood, who made his first XV debut from the bench on Saturday.  


Sutton other team results:

Sunday 6th Nov 2016
Shrewsbury Colts 7 pts v Sutton Colts 24 pts 

Sutton Colts  travelled to Shrewsbury on a cold Sunday afternoon, devoid of players but not of spirit. With only 14 men taking the field Sutton were always in control of this league fixture. Sutton scored first with a well worked overlap putting in Billy Dunn to score after 10 minutes. Laurie Harries missed the conversion but soon made amends with a try and conversion of his own. The final try of the half came from Cam Marriott again converted by Harries. A change of pitch was required just before half time following an injury to centre Michael Roe, which required ambulance attendance for a displaced knee.

Shortly after half time Sutton were down to 12 men after a Sutton player was yellow carded. The numerical advantage allowed  Shrewsbury to get a foothold in the game scoring a converted try. Both sides battled throughout the remainder of the game, but it was Sutton who were rewarded with a bonus point victory when Cam Marriott scored his second try of the game on the stroke of full time.

Final Score 24-7 to Sutton.  (words by Gerald Shanahan)

Other team news:

Because bodies were needed to assist with setting up the ground and stewarding the crowds at the highly successful bonfire party and firework display at the club on Saturday, there were no games scheduled for the Development side or 3rd XV this weekend.


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