Sutton & Epsom enjoyed the ideal start to the new year with a comfortable 41-12 win over Staines in London Division One South.
It was Sutton’s first match since mid-December, courtesy of two cancellations due to the inclement weather, and at times they lacked the sharpness that they would normally expect to display.
But they always had the upper hand against a determined Staines side, who might feel that the score line did not entirely do them justice.
The victory also brought to an end the run of four successive defeats stretching back to the second week of November.
The Sutton team contained no less than five changes from the defeat at Hove before the holiday period, with Warren Steyn, Dave Cook and Mike Blakeburn returned from various injuries as well as redoubtable hooker James Bennett, who crossed the try line twice during the match.
In conditions that were almost perfect for rugby, Sutton were keen to play their usual expansive game however it was their pack that secured this victory.
Sam Hurley, the man with the golden boot
Staines were unable to defend Sutton’s well organised forward driving maul which directly led to five of the six tries.
Staines started the livelier of the two teams but soon conceded a penalty for offside in front of their posts which was successfully kicked by Sam Hurley, however Staines were soon on the offensive.
A good spell of forward play led to the visitor’s gaining significant territory and a move down their back line resulted in left wing, Joshua Brock, scoring a try which was converted so that Staines took an early lead 7-3.
But within three minutes the Sutton pack found its feet and from a line out within the 22m, the pack rumbled forward and with the try line in sight the maul was collapsed by Staines and the referee, had no hesitation in awarding the hosts a penalty try which was converted by Sam Hurley.
Almost immediately from the restart Sutton were back on the attack and as another maul rolled forward Staines infringed which resulted in their number eight being sent to the touchline for 10 minutes.
Sutton have not always made the best use of numerical advantages this season, however on this occasion another forward drive from a line out allowed Shawn Renwick to score his seventh try of the season whichHurley converted.
Off the mark: Frankie Murray, right, would get his first score for the Sutton & Epsom senior side
Minutes later, Bennett popped out of another maul to score his first try of the afternoon, the conversion went astray and Sutton had a comfortable half time lead of 22-7.
Staines again opened the scoring in the second half when former London Welsh player Chris Bishay completed a back move to score the visitor’s second try although the conversion was missed.
Sutton always looked the likely victors and were soon back on the attack - three converted tries in a twelve minute period ensured their success.
Once again the rolling maul was used to good effect to provide a second try for Bennett and also for Joe Ridgley to open his account for the season.
Frankie Murray provided the icing on the cake with the final try of the afternoon, with five minutes remaining when he dived over from close range.
Force: Shawn Renwick leads the maul that led to James Bennett going over
This was his first try for the Sutton senior team having been a regular member of the senior squad for a number of seasons.
This outing will have certainly blown away any Christmas and new year cobwebs and Sutton will need to be at their best when they travel to rivals Wimbledon next week, kick off at 2.15pm.
Wimbledon have taken the scalps of high flyers Chichester, Chobham and Sidcup away from home in recent weeks, and are currently one of the form teams in the division.
Team: Guy Stuckey-Clarke, Sam Hurley, Dave Cook, Warren Steyn, Steve Warnham, Chris Hitchcock, Frankie Murray, Tariq Al Khaldi, James Bennett, Raynn Bruce, Felix Symonds, Mike Blakeburn, Joe Ridgley, James Caddy, Shawn Renwick.
Subs: George London, Dave Crowest, Andy Nichols.
Racing away: Warren Steyn out-strips the Staines defence
Number two: James Bennett goes over for his second try of the day
Touch down: Joe Ridgely scores for Sutton
Magic moment: Frankie Murray goes over....
...and is congratulated by his team-mates