• Sutton gain bonus point in the home defeat against Shelford... final score 31-49...
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Latest 1st XV match report

Shelford Nearly Safe
Sutton & Epsom 31-49 Shelford
After the euphoria of the Sutton win at Broadwater that secured London & SE Premier rugby, or at least Level 5 competition, in 2018-19 for the Black & Whites it was the turn of the Peacocks to flutter their plumage in victory. For the Cambridgeshire men survival is not guaranteed going into the final round of games but it is most probable. On a splendid sunny afternoon, ideal for running rugby, a sizeable crowd feasted on 13 tries. The visitors took home the vital bonus point win with a 49-31 triumph.

Sutton started brightly as Stefan Cooksammy jinked his way towards the whitewash to offload to the supporting Sam Hurley who scored the simplest of tries from close range. The home kicker added the extras to his try for a 7-0 lead after 5 minutes. The Shelford response was immediate and was a familiar sight for the Rugby Lane crowd. A clearance kick was not followed up with the necessary gusto and the ball-carrier avoided some weak tackling. A couple of fine passes later and the visitors had scored in the corner. Despite missing the touchline conversion the Davey Field side kicked a penalty five minutes later to edge ahead 8-7. S&E should have regained the lead after a fine run from Chris Kolapo-Ajala, fly-half Jamie See dodged through the defences but his offload was picked off by the defenders with the line begging. Shelford proved to be more clinical as the ever excellent Aki Lea brushed aside tacklers to breach the Sutton defences. The ball was transferred wide for another try in the corner. In contrast the hosts were profligate in possession as a fine attacking position on the opposition 22 was squandered by a woeful pass. The ball was cleared deep and to the horror of the home supporters it was regathered by the Shelford winger who ran in untouched to score. 20-7 ahead after 25 minutes set the tone for the point a minute encounter.

Andrew Ciccarelli was forced to retire after an illicit challenge which enabled Kyren Ghumra to take the field. It was Groundhog Day for the crowd as they witnessed another inadequate clearance kick from Sutton & Epsom gathered and the sporadic chasers were easily bypassed before the ball was relayed to the flank for another try. This indignity spurred the hosts into action. Following a couple of tip tackles being penalised in quick succession S&E had a perfect platform to strike back. The passing, on this occasion, was precise as a long ball landed in the grateful hands of Kyren Ghumra who showed good strength to score in the corner. The deficit should have been further reduced moments later. Another forceful run from Chris Kolapo-Ajala found Stefan Cooksammy who weaved his way through the defence. With two men outside and the last defender committed to the tackle it was unfortunate that the pass hit the turf with the line at Sutton’s mercy. The whistle concluded the first period and the teams turned around with Shelford leading 25-12.

It only took five minutes for the Peacocks to strut their stuff again. Despite some fine tackling the visitors kept the ball alive and scored once more in the corner as the Black & Whites ran out of defenders. As the hosts chased the game they became rather selfish in possession as the ball-carrier was often guilty of failing to release the supporting runners. However, Chris Kolapo-Ajala came off his wing to make a decisive burst infield to score by the posts. This was a deserved score for the powerful winger who looked dangerous throughout. Frankie Murray converted to add the extras. The come back was undone by a sloppy restart as the drop out was not gathered cleanly. Once again Shelford ruthlessly exploited possession in their opponents 22. Another try extended the lead to 37-19 as the game entered the last quarter. The Black & Whites responded with spirit and Kyren Ghumra narrowly failed to gather his volleyed fly-hack with a try in the offing. The next attack was undone by a loose pass on the Shelford 22. The interception was returned the length of the pitch for 44-19. A minute later it was Kyren Ghumra intercepting a pass on his 22 to sprint clear for his second score. Frankie Murray added the extras to the bonus point fourth try. S&E continued to attack in search of an unlikely losing bonus point. A very scrappy passage of play saw Kyren Ghumra left in splendid isolation by the tryline with little more to do than fall on the ball to complete his hat trick. Trailing 31-44 entering the last knockings of the game one more goal for the Black & Whites would mean another bonus point. However, the restart was knocked on and a penalty conceded. The kick to the corner gifted the Cambridgeshire men a final opportunity to score. The initial catch and drive was halted at source but the ball was recycled for the forwards to muscle over the line for try number eight. The referee brought proceedings to a close with Shelford deservedly winning 49-31.

It seems rather churlish after an eighty-point game to state that the scoreline should have recorded an aggregate of 100 points such was the number of opportunities created by both sides. Ultimately Shelford were more clinical when they ventured into their opponents 22 and benefitted from their willingness to get the ball wide to the supporting runners. For the Black & Whites it was a delight to see Kyren Ghumra back at Rugby Lane after a very frustrating period of injury and he certainly made up for lost time with three tries. Once again Chris Kolapo-Ajala and Stefan Cooksammy caused a lot of trouble for the opposition. Credit also to the makeshift pack who held their own against the large visiting forwards in the set scrum and won plenty of ball via novel line outs.

Next Saturday, 21st April, the season concludes with leaders Barnes visiting Rugby Lane. The table-toppers need a victory to secure automatic promotion to edge out long time leaders Guernsey. The game kicks off at 3pm and hopefully we will be blessed with another sunny day and conditions suitable for entertaining running rugby.

Sutton & Epsom: Sam Hurley, Chris Kolapo-Ajala, Stefan Cooksammy, Jacob Knight, Andrew Ciccarelli, Jamie See, Steve Munford ( capt ), Raynn Bruce, Seb Bonizzi, Theo Skoumbourdis, Sam Jones, Luke Halford, Jack Howes, George London, Brandon Fanolua. Replacements (all used): Ollie Hale, Kyren Ghumra and Frankie Murray.


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