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Sutton & Epsom squeeze past Chobham by the narrowest of margins
2:29pm Monday 28th October 2013 in Sport
By Paul Phillips
If you are of a nervous disposition, watching Sutton & Epsom on a regular basis will be dangerous for your health.
Saturday’s fixture against league leaders Chobham was the third consecutive match at Rugby Lane to be decided by a slender margin, and for the second successive game Sutton secured a win with the final kick of the match deep in stoppage time – this time running out 10-8 winners over Chobham in London Division One South.
Sutton’s “late show” heroes this week were skipper Matt Whitaker with a try to bring the scores level and, in the gathering gloom with the wind becoming more blustery, Sam Hurley whose tricky conversion gave Sutton the victory by the narrow margin of 10-8.
Chobham, who were promoted with Sutton last season, came into the game with an unbeaten league run dating back to early November 2012, which included a 16-10 victory over Sutton at Cheam in January of this year. Sutton welcomed back Dave Cooke at outside centre for the first time this season in a new centre partnership with Warren Steyn.
Challenge: Sam Hurley moves forward against Chobham
In a compelling game which ebbed and flowed, neither side was able to play with prolonged spells of territorial or possession advantage, despite the squally conditions both teams looked to attack through their backs whenever possible.
Shawn Renwick was Sutton’s outstanding player - his work at the back of a retreating scrum all afternoon was exceptional and one of the first half’s highlights was a run of 25m when he slipped past four tacklers culminating in an inside pass which Ian Knott’s was not able to take cleanly with the try line beckoning.
Sutton would have been justifiably delighted with a first half effort which saw the scores level at half time.
The visitor’s fly half Alex Sears had converted one penalty from two attempts, while Sam Hurley had missed two attempts into the wind but managed to find his range just before the interval.
If the first half had been absorbing, the second was even more enthralling. Sutton started with more confidence playing with the wind at their backs and the Chobham defence came under pressure as the Sutton pack showed its mobility and ball handling capability.
Chobham’s defence held firm despite being down to 14 men for 10 minutes and a long range penalty miss from Hurley meant that Sutton had nothing to show for their efforts.
The visitor’s best period of the match was in the middle of the second half which culminated in a try for their fast winger Josh Drevitt, having stretched the Sutton defence once too often.
The conversion was missed, but a Chobham victory now looked the more likely outcome, however this current Sutton team is made of sterner stuff.
Tough opponent: Sutton & Epsom skipper Matt Whitaker takes on the Chobham back lines
With time slipping away, Sutton were camped in the visitor’s half and it appeared that Chobham would hold out.
However, in the 12th minute of added time a series of forward drives bought Sutton agonisingly close to the try line.
The more pressure Sutton exerted, the more the visitors became frustrated with the referee. A Chobham player was yellow carded for not rolling away at the tackle, the remaining available time only allowed for a tap penalty.
Sutton drove forward and Chobham offended again with another forward being sent to the touchline, from the next tap penalty, Whitaker resisted the attention of two defenders to wriggle over the line, to level the scores.
Attention then focussed upon Hurley with the conversion. The rain had returned and the wind was gusting but Hurley coolly stroked the ball between the posts for another last kick victory for Sutton.
This was a determined display by Sutton which will attract significant attention from teams above them in the league table, although they remain in fifth place. Next week Sutton travel to local rivals Cobham at Fairmile Lane, kick off at 1430.
Team: Ian Knott, Steve Warnham, Dave Cooke, Warren Steyn, Sam Hurley, Chris Hitchcock, Frankie Murray, Tariq El Khaldi, Phil Williams, Raynn Bruce, Mike Blakeburn, Felix Symonds, Matt Whittaker, James Caddy, Shawn Renwick.
Subs: Joe Ridgely, George London, Jak Martin.
Happy man: Sutton & Epsom coach Jeff Parsons
Cheers: It's time for celebrations as Matt Whitaker goes over for Sutton & Epsom
Under pressure: Despite the swirling win, Sam Hurley slotted the vital conversion to ensure victory would be Sutton & Epsom's
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