Troubled Season Ends on a High

Bournville RFC 14 v 36 Sutton Coldfield

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2015 10:50am
Sutton New Hall, Birmingham
By David Daniels
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National League 3 Midlands


Last weekend Sutton finished their rebuilding season with a convincing 36-14 win over old rivals Bournville, who also suffered an inexplicable drop in form during a torrid National 3 league programme but whilst Sutton avoided the drop thanks to some good performances earlier in the season and can continue their rebuilding next season in the National Leagues, their final opponents of this season will be relegated and are reconciled to start their recovery back at level 6, in Midlands League 1.

Going into this last fixture of the season the fate of both teams was already decided and from a league perspective it might appear to have been a dead rubber but as old rivals and fierce competitors the sides were playing for pride and in preparation for next season. Each hoping to finish the season on a high giving them impetus into next season before they each draw a veil over the events of the last eight months.
For this final game Sutton were boosted by the return of Fraser Tait, who started the season as Sutton's skipper but was a loss to Sutton after moving to London in 2015 to start a new business with friends. Although nursing a knee problem the inspirational no8 was determined to make an appearance on this final day and starting from the bench as replacement for Jack Woodcock, who took a knock on the shoulder early on, he made good his return by scoring Sutton's second try 30 minutes into the contest.
Sutton had kicked off on a dry day with good playing conditions underfoot and they drove play deep into the Bournville 22 straight from the kick off but strong defence by the home side held them out and the game was tit for tat over the first 10 minutes. 
However, frustrations grew over this period and the game dissolved into an ill tempered affair with a player from each side shown a yellow card for violent conduct and retaliation by Sutton during a fracas on 10 minutes.
Once the game had settled down again with 14 men aside Sutton took control when 2nd row Lewis Snowden won good lineout ball on the left wing and the ball was quickly moved from left to right into midfield, where left wing Andy Tovey come off his wing to take a perfect pass in midfield and the talented winger raced straight through the midfield defence to score an excellent opening try, which was converted by centre Alex White to give the visitors a 7-0 lead after 15 minutes of play.
To their credit Bournville came back strongly following the restart and fullback Robin Eatough raced through to score on the overlap. Fly half Alex Warner converted to level the score at 7-7 after 18 minutes of play.
But in a close contest Sutton pressed hard and won a penalty in midfield. Rather than take the 3 points Sutton kicked into the left corner and won the ball from the lineout, driving forward towards the try line but as the drive was stopped short no8 Tait picked up and broke blind to score in the left corner to take Sutton into a 12-7 lead 10 minutes before the break, but in subsequent play Sutton's single score lead was only protected by an excellent cover tackle on the try line by centre Alex White, which caused his opposite number to drop the ball over the line to save a certain try, with 35 minutes played.
Sutton turned round with their 12-7 lead in tact but within 2 minutes of the restart this was extended to 19-7 when fly half Josh Rolls, playing his last game for Sutton before setting off on a backpacking journey back to his native New Zealand with his wife, supported a break by Barbadian flanker Marcus Harewood, who is also reported to be leaving Sutton at the end of the season and the two combined brilliantly to put Rolls in under the posts. 
Alex White added the conversion but within 2 minutes Bournville bounced back when 2nd row Dan McQue powered over from close range and Alex Warner slotted the conversion to close to 19-14. However, that was the end of Bournville's scoring challenge and Sutton took control of the scoreboard with tries for second row Max Heppner, converted by Alex White on 10 minutes then a fine try in the corner by centre Jon Raistrick for 31-14 on 15 minutes but the final flourish and Sutton's 6th try of the day fell to departing fly half Josh Rolls for a final score line of 36-14.
Sutton now take a break from the physical demands of league rugby and encouraged by their final victory against a decent team, Sutton can now use the summer to rebuild their fitness, skills and teamwork whilst developing their playing patterns and team plays, which have not been as sharp or effective as in previous seasons but this is not surprising considering the loss of key players at the end of last season and the introduction of new players who, although highly regarded they took time to settle to rugby at National League level but will have learned valuable lessons and gained considerable experience during the past season full of strong challenges and mixed emotions.
The team, coaches, physio's and support teams plus team manger thank all supporters and followers for their loyalty and support throughout a difficult season, which saw the enforced rebuilding of the Sutton team and was successfully achieved without slipping out of the National League structure. 
Have a great summer all, with a return to wining ways next season and the start of a new period of history at the Royal Sutton Club.


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