Sutton & Epsom fall short on the south coast
10:24am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in Sport
By Paul Phillips
Sutton & Epsom slumped to their fourth successive defeat in London Division One South last weekend, going down 32-19 at Hove.
Having had aspirations towards the top of the table only six weeks ago, Sutton are now looking over their shoulders with third from bottom, Havant, only a bonus point win behind Jeff Parsons’ team.
Sutton will point to their ever increasing injury list for their current poor run of form, however this game marked the halfway point in the season, and Sutton will be looking for another 20 points, to add to the 30 already in the bag, to ensure safety in London One South for another year.
On Saturday, Sutton never got to terms with Hove’s all action approach to the game with their rush defence stretching the offside law to the limit and committing a large number of defenders to every ruck.
They also tested the Sutton defence with a barrage of high balls all afternoon which were managed with varying degrees of success.
Powering on: Mike Cartledge takes on the Hove defence
Sutton were undone by a blitz of three converted tries by Hove in the first six minutes of the second half after Sutton had established a 14-3 lead at half time.
The first half was far from pretty viewing; the game was very disjointed due to constant stoppages for injuries.
Sutton had used all of their substitutes within the first 30 minutes as Joe Ridgley and Chris Hitchcock succumbed to hamstring injuries and Steve Burton left the field with a rib injury.
Hove had made the intentions clear with their fly half kicking the ball from hand at every opportunity thereby turning the Sutton defence and forcing the visitors to either run the ball from a deep position or return the kick.
Hove opened the scoring with an early penalty when Sutton were caught offside, but it did not take long for the visitors to respond.
Mike Cartledge managed to slip past a couple of defenders and set Sam Hurley free to score the opening try, Hurley also obliged with the conversion.
Sutton then lost Ridgley and Hitchcock to injuries within five minutes but managed to extend their lead when replacement scrum half Jonjo Wadwa picked up the ball from the back of a scrum and dived over the line from two yards.
Coming through: Raynn Bruce
Sam Hurley was again successful with the conversion to give Sutton a respectable lead at half time, even though Hove had enjoyed the majority of possession.
The hosts were a completely different side in the second half and immediately applied pressure to the Sutton line.
Following a series of scrums Hove scored their first converted try which was the opening of the floodgates.
Hove then ran in two further converted tries from within their own half in a four minute period; on both occasions Sutton’s tackling and defence had been found badly wanting.
Sutton attempted to regroup and a number of opportunities to add three points from penalties were declined to seek to secure seven points from a try and conversion.
Eventually replacement flanker George London burrowed his way over from close range but the conversion from Sam Hurley hit the post, to leave Sutton trailing by fivepoints.
Any hopes of a Sutton revival were short lived as Hove once again went back on the offensive seeking their bonus point try.
Sutton’s frailties were exposed with only some last ditch defending keeping Hove at bay on a number of occasions.
Here: Guy Stuckey-Clarke passes to Steve Warnham
Hove added another penalty with eight minutes to play and then secured their bonus point victory with another sweeping move from within their own half, leaving the Sutton defence in tatters.
Sutton had conceded 29 points in their second half implosion, and this was by far their worst performance of the season to date.
The performance was a pale shadow of the team that had beaten the leaders Chobham in late October.
This Saturday, Sutton entertain strugglers Haywards Heath in the last game of the year at Rugby Lane, kick off is at 2.30.
Team: Sam Hurley, Mike Cartledge, Guy Stuckey – Clarke, Steve Warnham, Andy Nichols, Chris Hitchcock, Frankie Murray, Tariq Al Khaldi, Richard Staveley, Raynn Bruce, Steve Burton, Dave Crowest, James Caddy, Joe Ridgley, Shawn Renwick.
Subs: George London, Jason Ford, Jonjo Wadwa.
Try: Jonjo Wadwa goes over for Sutton & Epsom
Higher calling: James Caddy
Over: George London scores with the help of Raynn Bruce
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