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Sutton brought back down to earth by Chingford
Sutton & Epsom 11-38 Chingford
On another splendid afternoon made for running rugby newly promoted Chingford came to Rugby Lane in search of a first win of the season after two narrow defeats. For the hosts it was the opposite experience having enjoyed a brace of bonus point wins whilst accumulating a dozen tries on the way. Sutton also welcomed back their captain, James Caddy, to the colours after a frustrating lay off through injury. There were enforced changes from the CS Stags game with weddings taking a heavier toll than injuries. This provided the opportunity for debuts for Joe Lovatt at scrum half with Aaran Rogers on the wing, and Rory Wise on the bench. By the final whistle the visitors from Essex had tucked away 5 valuable points with a thoroughly deserved victory to kick-start their campaign.

Sutton kicked off and the tone was set from the outset as the Lea Valley outfit demonstrated impressive line speed and ferocious tackling in defence. In full back Josh Porter they had a very steadying influence at the back who gathered all the kicks with calm authority and not only kicked astutely from hand but also initiated counterattacks. The first opportunity of the game followed a sweeping S&E back move as the Chingford defence covered across Jamie Wilcock stepped inside and ducked into an outstretched arm. There was nothing malicious in the challenge but a yellow card was issued. With the numerical advantage the hosts pressed hard and won a penalty. The boot of Tom Lennard opened the scoring as the penalty soared through the uprights for a 3-0 lead. Despite having only 14 the visitors went on the attack and only a Tom Lennard tackle prevented a try. Desperate defence led to a penalty and Scott Meakin stepped up to level the scores at 3-3. Within five minutes Tom Lennard put the Black & Whites back into the lead at the end of the first quarter.

More territorial dominance by the Waltham Way side and penalties conceded by Sutton provided the platform for the first try of the afternoon. A quickly taken tap penalty led to the forwards forcing it over from close range. Scott Meakin did the necessary for a 10-6 lead. More indiscipline gifted the 10 another three points to stretch the lead to 13-6 approaching the half hour. With Ben Bolton Smith carrying effectively in the centre and the willingness to spread the ball Chingford were in the ascendancy. Having missed a great chance on the far right they crossed the whitewash on the left only to be brought back for an infringement. This was a temporary stay of execution as the Essex forwards forced another try. From the restart the home team had their brightest spell with Andy King prominent but they just failed to get a morale boosting score before the referee drew proceedings to a close with the scoreboard showing a 20-6 for the away team.

If the Rugby Lane faithful expected the third quarter surge that has proved decisive this season they were to be disappointed. Early pressure was turned on its head as the ball was stripped in the visiting 22 to see them surge down the paddock. David Duffus went for style over substance as a backhanded flip hit the turf rather than hands and a try went begging. In consolation they gained another penalty for Scott Meakin to stretch the lead to 23-6. If that was a let off the next chance seemed harder not to score as Andy Matthews intercepted 5 metres from his line and ran it back for a try. This was not the start of a comeback. Tunde Babajide, the ‘Octopus’, extended one of his tentacles to touch down after valiant S&E defence. A couple of minutes later Scott Meaklin was on hand to finish off a wonderful move as perfect lines of running split the defence. The ten added the conversion to his try and secured the bonus point. In the last quarter there was just one final Scott Meakin penalty after a petulant kicking away of the ball by Sutton that epitomised a frustrating afternoon. The game finished with the visitors not flattered by the 38-11 scoreline.

Firstly, credit to Chingford whose aggressive defence emasculated the Sutton attack. With that foundation they carried well with number 8 Keith Barlow quite outstanding in keeping his team on the front foot. The new boys were well organised and have all the tools to be competitive at this level. It was also rather nostalgic to see most of their team shun the coach home to stay behind to enjoy the hospitality, toast their win and sing to their heart’s content. For the Black & Whites it was a sobering afternoon where the collective effort fell short of what was needed against the Essex XV’s physical performance. They have the ideal opportunity to bounce back next week with a trip to Dorking to face familiar foes.

Sutton
Tom Lennard, Aaran Rogers, Andy Matthews, Jacob Knight, Jamie Wilcock, Jamie See, Joe Lovatt, Alex Mount, Chris Farrell, Raynn Bruce, Kyle Coulter, Felix Symonds, James Caddy (capt), George London, Andy King. Replacements: Cezar Ionica, Rory Wise & James Matthews (all used)

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