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Sutton & Epsom are blown away at Chobham
On an afternoon when a blustery gale turned the game into a lottery, Chobham acclimatised best to the conditions and defeated Sutton & Epsom 31-3 at Fowlers Wells last Saturday.
The defeat leaves Sutton ninth in London Division One South, and they host seventh-placed Cobham this weekend.
Due to injuries and non-availability, Sutton had to make six changes from the side that beat Havant a fortnight earlier, including a debut for former Old Albanians hooker Ed Spackman.
Having not played for a fortnight, Sutton appeared rusty, while Chobham were razor sharp and eager to avenge their defeat in October at Rugby Lane.
Sutton’s victory that day ended Chobham’s 22-match unbeaten record which had stretched back over 51 weeks.
Chobham’s stock has slipped since the autumn, while Sutton continue to wrestle with their lengthy injury list not helped by the news that Matt Whitaker and Dave Cook are now likely to sidelined for the rest of the season.
Double act: Shawn Renwick and Frankie Murray
With the advantage of the gale in the first half, Sutton dominated the early phases of play, Sam Hurley missed a penalty but put Sutton ahead after 12 minutes when Chobham strayed offside.
As always, Sutton looked to play their more expansive game, but the squally wind made accurate passing difficult and mistakes were made, thereby handing over possession to Chobham.
Meanwhile the hosts sought to play at closer quarters using their forwards to attack with plenty of support for ball carriers at the off load.
Chobham were soon on level terms from a penalty in front of the posts and went further ahead after 25 minutes.
Sutton conceded a penalty and Chobham opted for a line out from where their pack rolled over the try line, the conversion was blown wide by the wind.
Sutton repelled further driving attacks by the hosts but from a Sutton line out on the 22 metre line, the wind carried the ball into the hands of Chobham flanker, Nathan Britten, who was standing in the back line.
He managed to evade a couple of tackles and his strength carried him over the try line with two Sutton defenders hanging off him.
Action man: James Caddy breaks a Chobham challenge
Again the conversion was missed but with 30 minutes played Chobham had established a 10-point lead which was increased to 13 courtesy of another penalty before half time.
Chobham made their intentions clear early in the second half and pinned Sutton back thanks to fine kicking from hand.
A further penalty from James Dunne reinforced their lead, and on the hour another push over try from the Chobham pack ensured there was no way back for Sutton.
Sutton then enjoyed their best period of the game with the pack leading the way, essentially playing through their forwards as Chobham had employed in the first half.
Shawn Renwick, Raynn Bruce and Joe Ridgley were tireless ball carriers and substitute George London was particularly impressive at punching holes in the Chobham defence.
In a five-minute period, Renwick, London and Ridgley were all held up over the Chobham try line, but Sutton were unable to make any inroads into the Chobham lead.
Ever reliable: Sam Hurley fought a losing battle with the wind on Saturday
It was probably a fair reflection of the game that the hosts secured their bonus point in the last minute of the game.
Another excellent kick from hand was allowed to bounce by the Sutton defence and Chobham winger, Liam Monaghan, reacted quickly and scored a simple try.
The game was concluded with another excellent conversion by Dunne from the touchline.
Team: Sam Hurley, Mike Cartledge, Guy Stuckey – Clarke, Steve Warnham, Andy Nichols, Jak Martin, Frankie Murray, Tariq Al Khaldi, Ed Spackman, Raynn Bruce, Jason Ford, Steve Burton, James Caddy, Joe Ridgley, Shawn Renwick.
Subs: Paul Webster, George London, Chris Hitchcock.