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1st XV

Director of Rugby
Andrew Spooner
07458 680767

John Croysdill
07852 487798

Head Coach
Paul Hodgson


Latest Match Report

Sutton & Epsom 26-45 Westcombe Park
The Final Curtain
The season concluded at Rugby Lane in weather appearing to be more suited to cricket than rugby. After the trauma of Hertford the home supporters were hoping that they would not endure a cricket score. The match was played in front of a sizeable crowd swelled by a luncheon that honoured those players, past and present, who had played at least 100 1st XV league appearances. It was a thoroughly entertaining denouement to the campaign with eleven tries as Westcombe Park triumphed 45-26.

Despite the glorious sunshine there was a strong wind that was to undermine the early endeavours of the players. The visitors kicked off with S&E playing towards the clubhouse. The Kent side demonstrated their attacking intent from the outset with a stunning break on the wing that concluded with a chip over the top but sadly, due to the wind, through the back of the in-goal area. It was only a brief stay of execution for the Black & Whites as Cameron Hyne, running an exquisite line, opened the scoring for the Park. Matt Hancock, mastering the elements to perfection, converted from touch for 7-0.

Within five minutes Sutton had crossed the whitewash. An erroneous line out throw was re-gathered and the ball transferred to centre Joe Odoemene who combined nimble footwork and commendable strength for his first S&E try as Sutton trailed 5-7. The home team knocked on the re-start, one of several errors made in new and interesting ways at this phase of proceedings, which provided the visitors with a prime attacking position. The ball was sent down the blindside for robust winger Bryan Young, who brushed aside all challengers, to score on the flank. Matt Hancock, again making like of the angle and the wind, added the extras for 14-5. Self-inflicted wounds continued to harm the Sutton team as Gareth O’Brien’s clearance was charged down. Magnificent try-line defence that would have made Horatio proud denied the visitors. However, it was not long before the Goddington Dene side had extended their lead. Tom Carling received a yellow card as his interception attempt hit the deck and hooker Ollie Colegate scored in the corner from the ensuing penalty. The conversion drifted wide with S&E trailing 5-19 and the ominous thought of ten minutes with 14 men.

Despite the numerical disadvantage the hosts stormed back when Gareth O’Brien’s perfect pass found Luke Halford. The prop, who had his finest afternoon for S&E, set off like a Pamplona Bull and stormed into the 22 and Ewan McTaggart scored. Gareth O’Brien slotted the simple conversion to reduce the deficit to 12-19. The Rugby Lane faithful had barely digested that tasty treat when they were choking on a rather unpalatable offering. Feeble defence allowed Number 8 Nicholas Cook to stride into the home 22 and offload to Matt Harrison to score. Normal service resumed as Matt Hancock added the conversion for 26-12. Further additions to the score were prevented by a superb Austin Bell tackle, a timely steal by George Drye and by a wild kick that butchered an overlap for Westcombe Park. The teams turned around with the visitors 26-12 ahead with a bonus point secured.

The second period did not take long to ignite and the crowd witnessed four tries in a chaotic ten minutes. It started with a superb kick-chase by Kyren Ghumra that gave Sutton a 5-metre scrum and a few phases later Eric Duey had forced his way over. Gareth O’Brien’s conversion once more put Sutton within a score at 26-19. A now familiar error at the restart was swiftly punished with replacement Tom Griffiths being the beneficiary to score out wide. The change of ends did nothing to distract the precision of Matt Hancock who added the conversion for 33-19. The re-start kick nearly went backwards and Westcombe Park accepted the scrum in the central position. More powerful direct running exposed fallible tackling and scrum half Jacob Buckley was on hand for try number six for the visitors. To the surprise of all present the conversion went astray for 38-19. The score soon became 45-19. Though we did not know it at the time that Westcombe Park had saved the best for last with their magnificent seventh try. It was initiated deep in their own 22, full of confidence, they countered. A nonchalant palm off on the wing saw them advance towards halfway. A sumptuous offload, an astute angle and a deadly finish by Keita Orelaja was a score of the highest class. Matt Hancock brought his personal tally to ten points as the score read 45-19.

As the game approached the final quarter those familiar with Sutton’s form this season would not have been shocked when they started to play their best rugby despite the scoreboard. Gareth O’Brien began to run the Park defence ragged with his thrilling breaks from 10. It became five tries in fifteen minutes when George Drye re-gathered his delicate chip into the 22 and fed the supporting Owen Clemett who scored near the uprights. Gareth O’Brien converted for 45-26. With that score S&E earned a bonus point that was a suitable reward for their spirit and their attacking intent. Sutton had certainly joined the end of season festivities. Despite the best of endeavours of all concerned, and to the surprise of all those present at Rugby Lane, there was to be no further addition to the score.

There could be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Westcombe Park thoroughly deserved to win the match. With the fixtures between the two clubs providing the bookends of the season both clubs will reflect upon what had occurred in the matches sandwiched in between. After that opening day win against Sutton the visitors endured an underwhelming period as they wallowed in the nether regions of the table. However, what was on show by this final match was a more honest reflection of the side as they enjoyed a splendid renaissance in the second half of the campaign. The Kent team played excellent open, attacking rugby from the first whistle. The centre combination of Sam Rhodes and Keita Orelaja were the creative hub for a back division that posed a constant threat. They exposed the inconsistent S&E defence with some ruthless finishing on the extremities and Matt Hancock’s place-kicking was of exceptional quality in very challenging conditions. Park have finished the season in sixth place and will no doubt hope this will be the foundation for a promotion push next time around.

For the hosts each flicker of hope was quickly extinguished by either an unforced error or a porous defence. Though the effort, fitness and spirit was again on show the accumulated effects of missing players undermined their overall performance. A season without relegation always offered the opportunity to blood new players. Indeed there were 22 debutants this campaign with 15 falling into the category of ‘youngsters’. All will have gained valuable experience by playing and have benefited from exposure at this level. However, continuity in selection is an important factor and this was never possible for the 2021-22 vintage as they did not enjoy the greatest of fortune with injuries.

The season has ended with a degree of uncertainty as all the clubs await the final decision on the league restructuring. Sevenoaks’ victory over Hertford secured the title whilst Dorking finished with a try-scoring flurry against Tunbridge Wells to gain the second promotion slot. The triumvirate of CS Stags 1863, Tunbridge Wells and Brighton are the beneficiaries of the lack of relegation and live to fight another day. What is certain is that the Black & Whites will return to league action in September to face pastures new and many unfamiliar opponents.

Sutton & Epsom:
Austin Bell, Tom Carling, Joe Odoemene, Michael Bennion, Kyren Ghumra, Gareth O’ Brien, Owen Clemett, Luke Halford, Tom Boaden, Will Lloyd, Eric Duey, Ewan McTaggart, George Drye ©, Chris Farrell, James Caddy. Replacements (all used): Bartek Lyczak, Haydn Rees & George London.




1st XV

Regional 1 South Central

Season 2022-23

Date Competition Opposition Result
12 August Friendly 1st XV v Old Reigatian CANCELLED H
20 August Friendly 1st XV v Dorking A
27 August Friendly 1st XV v Tunbridge Wells H
3 September League 1st XV v Bracknell A
10 September League 1st XV v Banbury H
17 September League 1st XV v Camberley A
24 September League 1st XV v Brighton H
1 October League 1st XV v Bournemouth A
15 October League 1st XV v London Welsh H
22 October League 1st XV v Royal Wootton Bassett A
29 October League 1st XV v Oxford Harlequins H
5 November League 1st XV v Wimbledon A
12 November League 1st XV v Havant H
26 November League 1st XV v Maidenhead A
3 December League 1st XV v Banbury A
10 December League 1st XV v Camberley H
17 December League 1st XV v Brighton A
7 January League 1st XV v Bournemouth H
14 January League 1st XV v London Welsh A
21 January League 1st XV v Royal Wootton Bassett H
28 January League 1st XV v Oxford Harlequins A
11 February League 1st XV v Wimbledon H
18 February League 1st XV v Havant A
4 March League 1st XV v Maidenhead H
11 March League 1st XV v Bracknell H
View the League Table