Sutton & Epsom were pipped 15-14 by national league new boys London Irish Amateur in a thrilling Surrey Trophy final.

With a strong wind at their backs, Irish forced Sutton to defend from the off but, after Sutton turned over ball on their own 22, number eight Matt Whitaker went on a magic 60m run.

Great support from centre Keith Middleton kept the ball alive and flanker Felix Symonds took the ball on to score under the posts, Steve Munford adding the conversion.

Irish again used to strong wind to keep Sutton pinned in their own 22 but 20 minutes of pressure was met by great defence.

Finally, it had to tell and, from a 5m line-out, the forwards drove over for prop Russ Ayres to touch down. The missed conversion meant Sutton still led 7-5.

It was then Sutton’s turn to take control and with some great forward play and strong carries by hooker James Bennett, Whitaker and Symonds causing the Irish defence real problems, unfortunately unforced turnovers were severely punished with the Irish standoff Paul Kerr putting up some towering clearances forcing Sutton back into their own 22 to start more attacks.

A second Sutton try was just thwarted when flying wing Andy Nicholls was taken into touch 5 metres out. Irish won the resulting lineout and were able to clear their lines.

Irish then pinned Sutton back with clever use of the conditions keeping their defence working strongly. Irish had two chances to take the game from Sutton but unforced errors with knocks on and forwards passes costing them dear.

The first half ended with Sutton leading 7-5 and their thoughts turning to a possible victory.

Sutton kicked off the second half and although the forwards showed great ball carrying skills and ball retention they never controlled territory as they should have. Great play and effort on the ten metre line was not smart enough.

Sutton turned over ball which led to a superb break out by the Irish, only the most determined defence kept Irish from scoring but Sutton’s No7 Chris Pointing over stepped which cost him a yellow card on 15 minutes and Kerr converted the penalty to give Irish the lead.

From the kick off Irish took control with some powerful running and good handling forcing Sutton to pull out all stops in defence.

A try saving tackle by stand off Frankie Murray and great smother defence kept Irish out and when they did cross the line the ball was held up. Sutton were eventually able to clear their lines. With 30 minutes of the half gone the game was on a knife’s edge but Irish were controlling territory and Sutton showing obdurate defence.

Another Irish attack was thwarted with a Sutton 22 drop out, Irish collected the ball and ran hard back at Sutton showing great power and handling skills releasing the ball to winger Darren Livett who squeezed in at the corner. Kerr converted.

With just 6 minutes to left on the clock Sutton finally used the conditions and forced Irish back into their own 22, some fantastic ball carrying and support from the entire team created huge pressure which stood firm but eventually the ball was moved to Sutton’s winger Nicholls who burst forward, chipped ahead, won the race and scored 15 metres to the right of the posts.

With his normal calm persona, Munford stepped up to kick the conversion bring the score back to within 1 point.

Irish kicked off with the clock running down Sutton driving back strongly tried to take the win but eventually turned the ball over and a very relieved Irish kicked to touch to win the Trophy.