Sutton & Epsom downed by clinical Chichester

Wandsworth Guardian: Coming through: Sutton & Epsom’s Mike Cartledge bagged a try on Saturday, but he could not prevent a defeat at home to Chichester   			   All pictures: SP80758 Coming through: Sutton & Epsom’s Mike Cartledge bagged a try on Saturday, but he could not prevent a defeat at home to Chichester All pictures: SP80758

By Paul Phillips

Back in October, Sutton & Epsom beat the then leaders of London One South, Chobham, and will have held similar aspirations of victory prior to the visit of the current league leaders, Chichester, to Rugby Lane last Saturday.

However, the outcome was disappointing as the West Sussex side provided a master class in clinical finishing winning 38-20 to secure their fifth successive triumph over Sutton in league fixtures.

This was an ideal afternoon’s entertainment for any neutral spectator; nine tries, two committed teams determined to play attacking and expansive rugby and not too much aimless kicking.

On paper this might appear to be a relatively straight forward win for the visitors by six tries to three, but the reality was something different.

Sutton will feel that the final score line does not do their substantive efforts full justice, especially in the continued absence of their talismanic captain, Matt Whitaker.

Sutton will look in particular at a spell of 15 minutes in the second half when they produced some outstanding rugby.

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Off load: Raynn Bruce prepares for a Chichester tackle

With the visitors leading 24-8, Sutton threw caution to the wind and launched a series of penetrating attacks upon the Chichester goal line.

Their reward was a try from Dave Cook who wrestled the ball from a Chichester defensive maul and ran 45 metres unopposed to score between the posts, Sam Hurley obliged with the conversion.

However, as seemed to be the case all afternoon, once the hosts got within touching distance of the visitors, Chichester changed gear and upped their game to restore a more convincing lead.

Chichester gave a clear signal of their intentions in the first half. Lively scrum half, Billy Toone, who created problems for the Sutton defence all afternoon and following a darting run of 30 metres set up a simple opening try for winger Tom Jackson.

Jackson would go on to collect a further two tries during the afternoon.

The visitors then added a brace of tries before the end of the first half hour, one from a pick and drive by their forwards and another when their backs used their pace to cut through the Sutton defence.

Not to be outdone, before half time Sutton showed off their own skills with a flowing back line move from within their own half.

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Chris Hitchcock made the initial break and found Ian Knott in the back line, Knott’s kick ahead was chased down by Mike Cartledge in the goal area to open Sutton’s account for the afternoon.

Sam Hurley added a penalty on the stroke of half time to leave Sutton trailing 8-17.

Sutton’s Dave Cook and Chichester’s Tom Jackson then exchanged two tries each in the second half, to leave the visitors 11 points ahead as the game entered the final five minutes.

Sutton applied the pressure to the visitor’s goal line with a number of attacks but then a handling error was seized upon by Billy Toone to run in the visitor’s final try and seal their victory by 18 points.

This was a reflection of the whole game, in that Chichester always seemed to be one step ahead of Sutton.

Away from the game, Ian Knott will not be available for the rest of the season as he is heading to the Alps for the winter as a ski instructor.

Sutton go to Gravesend this Saturday to take on the second placed team in the league who have won their last six games and exceeded 50 points in the last two.

Team: Ian Knott, Mike Cartledge, Dave Cook, Warren Steyn, Chris Hitchcock, Frankie Murray, Tariq El Khaldi, Phil Williams, Raynn Bruce, Austin Sheppard, Felix Symonds, Joe Ridgley, James Caddy, Shawn Renwick (captain).

Subs: Jak Martin, George London, Paul Webster.

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Set: Felix Symonds

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Up and under: Frankie Murray kicks long for S&E

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Up where we belong: S&E rise higher than Chichester

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Warren Steyn

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Coming down: Joe Ridgley brings possession into S&E's hands

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Scorer: Mike Cartledge

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Still going: Joe Ridgley

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Over: Mike Cartledge

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Looking for a pass: Phil Williams

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