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Syston 1st XV 27 - 23 Sutton Coldfield

National League 3 Midlands

Last Updated: Dec 7, 2015 07:10pm
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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After an evenly matched first half Sutton trailed 8-6 at the break but an excellent start to the second half saw the visitors score two well taken tries and a conversion to take an 18-8 lead 10 minutes after the restart. However, such has been Sutton's fallibility during this troubled season, they conceded 3 tries and 2 conversions in the next 15 minute period to trail 27-18 with 15 minutes to play... but to their collective credit they showed true strength of character and skill as they rallied in the closing minutes to claim a consolation try with just 3 minutes left to play, securing a losing bonus point, which could prove to be very important at the end of a closely fought and competitive National League 3 season.
The game saw the introduction of a new front row player for Sutton as new signing Terry Sigley made his debut. Having lost key front row players during the course of an eventful season, some due to long term injury, others to retirement with another prop returning to his original club, Sutton have been searching for a solution to this growing front row problem for many weeks and happily the club were able recruit new signing Terry Sigley. The experienced prop was signed up in time to make his entrance in the Sutton front row for this crucial game and he is a welcome addition to the squad providing much needed cover and depth to the Sutton front row options, which together with his vast rugby experience his presence can only strengthen the Sutton pack for the forthcoming must win games.
As for this game, the recent rains cleared in time for the start of the game and the underfoot conditions were good but the most prominent feature of the weather was a very strong wind with gale force gusts blowing cross field from left to right as Sutton kicked off.
From the kick off Syston brought play back into the Sutton half to put the visitors under pressure and although an early penalty drifted wide the home side were awarded another chance as Sutton were penalised at a scrum in front of their posts and flyhalf James Morgan made no mistake with his second attempt to give Syston a 3-0 lead with 6 minutes played.
Following the restart Sutton applied pressure of their own and with the Sutton scrums and lineouts going well play was concentrated in the Syston half. Finally the Sutton pressure told and Alex White was able to level the score at 3-3 with a well judged penalty, when the home defenders were penalised for not rolling away after the tackle 12 minutes into the game.
The game continued to ebb and flow for the next period of play but again good attacking play by Sutton brought a second penalty for flyhalf Alex White, when Syston were penalised for a scrum infringement 40 metres out, in midfield and Sutton took a 6-0 lead midway through the first half ...but Syston stepped up their own game and after successive scrums in the Sutton 22 to the left of the posts Syston ran the ball to their right and exploited a well worked overlap to score in the corner to take an 8-6 lead 10 minutes before the break.
With half time approaching Sutton showed great enterprise but on two occasions promising attacking play ended in a knock-on and then a trademark illuminating run into the corner by fullback Nathan Burchell was deserving of an outstanding try but the referee judged the ball to have been knocked on as the fullback was tackled on the line and Sutton were denied.
However, encouraged by their attacking play at the end of the first half Sutton made an excellent start to the second half as another devastating break by fullback Nathan Burchell took play deep into the Syston 22 and quick support from the Sutton loose forwards recycled the ball swinging right for winger Ollie Chitnis to squeeze over in the corner. Unfortunately the difficult wind took the conversion wide but Sutton had retaken the lead at 11-8 just 4 minutes into the second half. Sutton continued to dominate possession and territory putting the Syston tryline under sustained pressure and having won a penalty in the Syston 22 Sutton opted for a scrum to the left of the posts. Having won the ball from the scrum Sutton drove for the try line and then broke off with 2nd row David Merlin leading the charge to score to the right of the posts. In spite of the troublesome wind Alex White added the conversion to give Sutton an impressive 18-8 lead with 30 minutes to play.
Syston had won promotion into the National 3 leagues having lost only one game last season and their winning mentality came to the fore in the final period of play. Undaunted by the score line the home side stepped up their game and they were quick to punish any frailties on Sutton's part.
15 minutes into the second half Syston stole a misdirected Sutton throw at a lineout in the Sutton 22 on the right touchline and no8 Adam Davey charged through the middle of the Sutton pack to score. Flyhalf James Morgan defied the wind to add the conversion and Syston closed to 15-18. Syston then set up an attack down their right wing taking play into the Sutton 22 before switching play with quick hands drawing the ball across in front of the Sutton posts creating an overlap on the left wing for winger Ian Smith to cross in the corner for an excellent score. The conversion drifted wide but the home side had recaptured the lead 20-18 with 20 minutes to play.
5 minutes later Syston extended their lead to 27-18 when the ball was knocked forward by a Sutton player in the Sutton 22 straight into the hands of a Syston player, who moved the ball to the left for hooker Craig Lock to race to the line for a shock score. This try was closer to the posts and James Morgan made no mistake with the conversion. 
Faced with a 9 point deficit with 15 minutes to play Sutton showed their true fighting spirit as they fought back to set up promising positions. Most notable was Sutton winger Rob Watts, who made great attacking runs down his left channel showing pace and power by going round or through his opponents and he scored the final try as just reward for his positive play. In the build up to the try a Rob Watts burst up the left wing took play into the Syston 22 and from a scrum under the Syston posts the play was first taken to the right and then with no way through on the right, the ball was quickly swung to the left inside the hosts 22 and a final charge by Rob Watts allowed the winger to force his way over in the corner to secure an all important losing bonus point.
Unfortunately in the difficult conditions the conversion was blown off course and the score remained at 27-23. From the restart Sutton had to defend strongly as Syston mounted a final surge looking to punish Sutton further but the visitors held firm and protected the losing margin so they left Leicestershire with something to bank.
This weekend Sutton welcome fellow strugglers Birmingham/Solihull to the RSG, Walmley Rd for a critical bottom of the table clash to complete the first half of the season. KO 2.15
Photo: File pic

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