Sutton & Epsom came close to causing a cup shock on Monday but ultimately lost out in the Surrey Trophy final.
They went down 20-15 to Cobham but did take the lead early on and were within a drop goal of winning until the final minutes.
Having lost twice to Cobham in the league this season by fairly substantial margins, Sutton went into this Surrey Trophy final at Imber Court on Bank Holiday Monday, as very definite underdogs but for much of the game outplayed their local rivals and came close to pinching the game in the dying minutes.
Although the same team which has lost all its league games this season, such was the spirit shown by the side you could have been forgiven for thinking they were a new set of players.
If this spirit and commitment had been shown earlier in the season Sutton would almost certainly still be playing their rugby in London division 1 next season. This was a great performance to build on for next year.
All the early pressure came from Sutton who disrupted Cobham’s fast off loading game with great tackling. Sutton took the lead after five minutes when predatory centre Andy Nicholls intercepted on halfway and outpaced the defence to score under the posts. Scrum half Frankie Murray converted.
Sutton though were struggling at the set piece scrum and despite Cobham’s massive tight head prop repeatedly standing up under pressure from Sutton’s young prop Will Lloyd the referee did nothing And Cobham were allowed to take advantage.
Cobham eventually managed to work a position in Sutton’s 22 where they were awarded a penalty which they took quickly and centre Andy Watkins went over in the corner.
The conversion was missed but shortly afterwards Cobham set up a massive rolling maul five metres from Sutton’s line, superhuman Sutton defence stopped the maul but with the defence sucked in, Cobham released the ball to fly half Dave Flower who stepped inside the defence and went in for Cobham’s second try and at half time Cobham led 12-7.
After the break Cobham stepped up a gear and for 5 minutes Sutton were under the cosh but defended stoutly until losing prop Gary Nash to a yellow card.
Already struggling at the scrum Cobham began to turn the screw and when they were awarded a 5 metres scrum their pack eventually after a mighty effort forced their way over for No8 Alex Crane to touch down. Again the conversion attempt was missed. Cobham then substituted their huge tight head prop and with him off the park Sutton dominated the tight scrum for the remainder of the game.
Sutton applied huge pressure to the Cobham line and were awarded a series of penalties close to the Cobham 5 metres but by fair means and foul Cobham kept them out and eventually they settled for a penalty kicked by Murray.
Sutton now came at Cobham in waves and showing great patience they went through 12 phases of play before shipping the ball to Nicholls who showing great strength drove forward and stretched to score in the right corner.
The conversion attempt went wide but Sutton now only needed a penalty or drop goal to take the lead.
Unfortunately on a rare break out from their half it was Cobham who kicked the penalty and hung on to take the win.
Sutton Team: Will Lloyd, Phil Williams, Gary Nash, Austin Sheppard(Capt.) Adam Blissett, Felix Symonds, Joe Ridgley, Matt Whitacker, Frankie Murray, Kevin Holder, Kevin Richens, Keith Middleton, Andy Nicholls, Lyndon Burrell, Steve Warnham. Replacements: Neville Harrington, James Bennett, Dave Crowest, Chris Pointing, Jonjo Wadwa, Seb Purvis, Steve Lakin.
Sutton’s incredibly successful vets side, the Dodos, play Maidstone Vets next Sunday 12th May in the final of the Evergreen Cup at Croydon RFC KO 2.30pm, Complan and Ovaltine will be served in the bar.