• Sutton score five tries but lose to Shelford away... but two bonus points... final score 31-36...
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Latest 1st XV match report

Shelford Suppress Spirited Sutton
Shelford 36-31 Sutton & Epsom
Sutton travelled to Cambridgeshire on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon. Blessed with a perfect playing surface and, thankfully, no wind the sizeable crowd enjoyed an entertaining 10 – try contest. Shelford have been inconsistent in recent weeks, toppling Tring but turned over by Towcestrians, however, this week they played well enough to secure a narrow 36-31 win.

The Black & Whites kicked off and soon suffered a set back with Steve Munford forced from the fray with a dead leg. The hosts had the better of the early exchanges and opened the scoring via a fine finish from fly half Josh Simmons, the first of a hat trick of tries in an impressive performance,  for a 5-0 lead. Ten minutes later open side, Jamie Beswick, showed a splendid turn of speed and several changes of direction to score. Josh Simmons added the extras for a 12-0 lead as the home team had dominated the opening quarter.

The team from The Davey Field looked to turn the screw as a wonderfully judged kick forced S&E to concede a touch five metres from their line. Temporary relief for the visitors as they stole the line out and cleared the pressure. More respite was provided as Shelford narrowly missed a penalty. Finally, Sutton & Epsom awoke from their slumber as Stefan Cooksammy carried well and despite a turn over Brandon Fanolua charged down the clearance kick. Two tapped penalties ensued with Matt Whitaker at his prominent best. Eventually the Surrey side spun it wide but Chris Kolapo-Ajala was bundled into touch close to the line. The Rugby Lane men stole the line out ball and a couple of phases later Jamie See created space for John Taylor to force his way over. Jacob Knight added the conversion from the flank. The hosts came storming back with a beautifully constructed back move that seemed destined to be rewarded with a try but was undermined in the last detail as the ball was dropped over the line.  Poor tackling gave them back the momentum before a typically courageous Frankie Murray tackle saved the day. Unfortunately for the visitors they conceded a penalty which was effortlessly converted to stretch the Shelford lead to 15-7. As the first period drew to a close Sutton enjoyed their best passage of play. A relentless assault started on the Shelford line. The Cambridgeshire men were heroic in defence repelling numerous carries from within a couple of metres as they attempted to close out the half. Finally, it went wide where Jacob Knight did splendidly to touch down in the corner. The whistle for the interval followed the missed conversion with the teams turning around with the home team 15-12 to the good.

As if inspired by the fact that Shelford’s dominance of territory and possession had only been translated into a narrow three-point advantage S&E opened the second period in impressive style. After constant pressure the Black & Whites scored after a deft offload from Brandon Fanolua opened up their defence for Jacob Knight to score. The full back converted his try for a 19-15 lead. However, all the hard work was undone by naive play from the restart. Neglecting the option to clear to touch the cavalier spirit got the best of the Surrey men as their attempt to run it out was thwarted. The home team took their chance with another goal to regain the lead 22-19. Eager to regain the advantage Sutton & Epsom were carried to the try line courtesy of a rampaging run by Chris Kolapo-Ajala but conceded a penalty. The disappointment was short-lived as within five minutes Brandon Fanolua scored in the same corner. An excellent conversion by Jacob Knight from the touchline had the lead changing hands once more with Sutton edging ahead 26-22.

The game entered its final quarter and Shelford scored from the restart courtesy of a mazy run from Simon Hrbek. The simple conversion from Josh Simmons put the The Davey Field side back in box seat 29-26. The hosts now regained the control they exerted in the first period. Within five minutes Josh Simmons collected his hat trick rounding of a fine team score under the posts. The extras added and the lead of 36-26 left the visitors searching for an additional bonus point as their first target with ten minutes to play. As has become a familiar theme of the 2017-18 campaign the Black & Whites after being on the back foot raised their game for the time added on. With Stefan Cooksammy to the fore once more Sutton besieged the try line. Awarded a penalty in front of the posts they declined the easy option to go for the major points. In a repeat of injury time in the first period the Shelford defence was magnificent as the visitors felt increasingly like Sisyphus. With 81 minutes on the clock Stefan Cooksammy gifted Sam Hurley the try in the corner. The kick failed but the whistle was not blown as the visitors were offered a lifeline trailing 36-31. The excellent home defence stood firm to run down the clock and record a well deserved victory.

Sutton, once more, had an afternoon where they produced some outstanding rugby to run in five tries. However, on balance Shelford were worthy winners with their midfield defence outstanding and some devastating attacks from their strike runners. For Sutton Brandon Fanolua’s passing ability created openings as Matt Whitaker and John Taylor carried tirelessly. Also the S&E ball retention within sight of the try line was marvellous to record tries at the end of each half. With the midpoint of the season reached the Black & Whites sit mid-table seventh with 37 points including an impressive 13 bonus points, the most in the league. Next week sees the visit of the Raiders from Guernsey to Rugby Lane for the last fixture of 2017.

Sutton & Epsom: Jacob Knight, Sam Hurley, Stefan Cooksammy,  Brandon Fanolua, Christopher Kolapo-Ajala, Jamie See, Steve Munford, George London, Raynn Bruce, Theo Skoumbourdis, Matt Harwood, Felix Symonds, John Taylor, Dan Wood, Matt Whitaker.Replacements (all used): Cezar Ionica, Jack Howes & Frankie Murray.


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