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The pain continues for Sutton

Lichfield RFC 58 - 19 Sutton Coldfield

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015 09:15am
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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National League 3 Midlands
 
Sutton's sorry start to the season continued into a third game when a disappointing performance against old rivals Lichfield saw the home side dominate the running game scoring nine tries, whilst Sutton dominated the scrums but could only manage three tries in a resounding 58-19 defeat. 
 
However, there is hope for the beleaguered Sutton side as the severity of the loss can be attributed to basic errors and simple mistakes, which can be easily corrected. The repeat errors resulted in gifting the lively and opportunist Lichfield side with 7 of their 9 tries. Three tries came from interceptions in the Lichfield half, two came directly from misdirected clearance kicks which were run straight back to score well taken tries and two tries were started with quickly taken tap penalties, which caught Sutton on the back foot and out of position to deliver strong tackles against a hard running Lichfield side, who to their credit snapped up every opportunity presented to them by a lack lustre Sutton especially in a torrid second half.                
 
On the positive side the Sutton pack played well and dominated the scrums but the Sutton lineout continued to stutter and did not deliver good ball consistently especially at key moments close to the Lichfield try line. Also when hard fought progress resulted in a promising attacking position in the Lichfield 22, all too often Sutton were penalised when the ball went to ground and Lichfield regained possession kicking the ball back deep into Sutton territory.
 
With Lichfield coming into the game having won 2 out of 2 and Sutton having lost 2 out of 2 of their opening games, it was always going to be a challenge for the visitors but Sutton's task grew considerably when they conceded two converted tries in the opening 5 minutes to trail 14-0.
 
Sutton had kicked off but Lichfield gathered the ball and raced back into the Sutton half winning a penalty as Sutton were penalised at the first breakdown. Rather than kick the ball deeper into Sutton territory confident Lichfield took a quick tap penalty and raced into the Sutton 22 regaining control of the ball on the left wing before spinning the attack across the 22 for outside centre Greg Massey to find a gap in midfield to score to the right of the posts after just 3 minutes of play.
 
Fly half Luke Massey converted his brothers try but a stunned Sutton tried to make amends by re-gathering the ball from the restart and setting up a powerful drive in the Lichfield half only to be penalised again, allowing Lichfield to clear the ball down to the Sutton 22. Lichfield won the lineout on their left wing and drove towards the Sutton try line before the ball was spun across in front of the posts for a repeat performance and this time flanker Dave Abel drove over for the try, which Luke Massey converted for a 14-0 lead after just 5 minutes.
 
This time Sutton managed to progress beyond the restart and applied powerful pressure in the Lichfield half creating a number of promising chances, so much so that midway through the first half after a period of sustained pressure on the Lichfield try line and successive dominant scrums the Sutton pack were awarded a penalty try, which was converted by flyhalf Ben Morgan to close to 14-7 after 20 minutes of play.
 
However, Lichfield struck back immediately when a poor Sutton clearance failed to find touch and the Lichfield left wing Will Wedgewood gathered the ball in his own half and raced up his wing into the 22 before passing infield to centre Paul Maxwell-Keys who crossed for the try, which was converted by Luke Massey to restore the 14 point advantage at 21-7.
 
Lichfield kept the pressure on Sutton with a quick tap penalty on their 22, which they ran down the right wing into the 22 and although Sutton stopped the initial threat Lichfield recycled the ball and no8 Rich Burton scored a captain's try as he drove over in the right corner. The conversion drifted wide but the deficit grew to 26-7, 12 minutes before the break.
 
Following the restart Sutton snapped up an interception on their 22 and winger Nathan Burchell raced away on an 80 metre run to the distant try line with the Lichfield team chasing him in hot pursuit. As the covering defenders closed in on the flying winger from all directions, he cleverly released the ball to his supporting centre Jon Raistrick, who had kept pace with him to complete the run to the try line from within the 22. Unfortunately the conversion drifted outside the posts but Sutton were back in contention at 26-12 with 10 minutes to play to the break.
 
Unfortunately any thoughts of a Sutton dramatic recovery in the second half were short lived as 5 minutes in Luke Massey kicked a penalty for 29-12 then 10 minutes in another poor clearance allowed Lichfield to run the ball back down their right wing for centre Greg Massey to cross in the corner and score under the posts giving brother Luke an easy conversion and Lichfield a commanding 36-12 lead with 30 minutes to play.
 
Things did not improve for a Sutton side whose efforts were frustrated by basic errors and 15 minutes into the second half a speculative lob infield from the Sutton right wing on the Lichfield 10m line was gathered in by Lichfield and run back down their left wing. Smart interplay in the Sutton 22 put 2nd row Joe Thompson in for a try in the left corner extending their lead to 41-12.
 
... and so the misery continued for Sutton in the closing period when again Sutton lost possession in the Lichfield 22 and replacement Callum Turner gathered the interception to race down the left wing into the corner for 46-12 with 15 minutes to play before centre Paul Maxwell-Keys raced in for his second try of the day 30 minutes into the second period and then scrum half Jonny Evans picked up an interception and raced in for a try which he converted himself to reach 58-12 with 5 minutes to play.
 
However, to their credit Sutton secured the final score of an exciting game when, showing true character and a fighting spirit they rallied in the closing minutes to drive play into the Lichfield 22 and centre Jonny Raistrick raced round the Lichfield defenders to score a dramatic try in the right corner. With time running out and a bonus point for a fourth try the target Sutton flyhalf Ben Morgan did not wait for the kicking tee but deftly and accurately kicked the conversion with a perfectly executed drop kick from the right touchline for a final score line of 58-19, as time ran out for Sutton.
 
Although frustrated and disappointed by the results in their opening games the newly formed Sutton side are not doing themselves justice and it will only take a win to release the true potential of this team; noting that the three game so far have been lost to the teams sitting 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the current league table.
 
So a win at home this weekend against Longton RFC could see Sutton start the climb back up the table to a healthier position more representative of their ability. All regular supporters and casual spectators welcome. KO 3 pm.
 
Sutton other team results: 
 
Last Sunday the Sutton Development side started their defence of the Warwickshire 2nd Team Trophy with a 13-5 victory over Nuneaton Old Eds 2nd XV in a difficult contest that proved to be heavy going but 3 wins out of 3 is a good start to the season for the Sutton second string.    
 
Sutton 3rd XV entertained Bromsgrove Vets in a rearranged fixture played at the Roger Smoldon Ground, Walmley Road last Saturday, winning an entertaining match 32-0.

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