Pictures by Steve Smith
Midlands 1 West
Sutton Coldfield 7 Newbold 26
Newbold beat Sutton for the third time this season but made real heavy weather of it this time around, writes Sean O’Brien.
On yet another cold afternoon Sutton started with the strong wind at their backs. The spectators could have watched the first half an hour from the two 22 metre lines because it was a midfield stalemate as both sides struggled to put anything together in the tricky conditions.
I found myself watching more of the Second XV match on the adjacent pitch, where ex-First XV scrum half Martin Shaw was doing a great job leading a very young team into action. It looked as though Martin’s badly faded shorts were older than many of Newbold’s players. He is doing a brilliant job for the club.
The line-out was a problem once hooker Kyle Furlong departed injured early on. Danny Facer took over the throwing duties. Now, Danny may look like a dart player nowadays but his arrows weren’t too good – but I’m happy to blame the difficult windy conditions. He stepped up and took responsibility when all said and done.
Sutton were keen enough and well drilled but didn’t look particularly dangerous – but they did defend with real spirit and organisation. Newbold made two or three excellent chances, Ethan Wookey looking the most dangerous and Lee Lightowler looking pacy, but as a collective they fluffed their lines. Jamie Mapletoft also made a lovely break but his compass wasn’t working and he ran in the wrong direction altogether.
Following a line out, Ben Nuttall and Nick Walton amongst others had a crack at the Sutton try line. Some phases later Dan O’ Brien extended an arm to score a try.
Newbold were very satisfied with their five-point half time lead given the conditions, and looked forward to rolling Sutton over after the break. No chance. Sutton were excellent and scored a well deserved try immediately after the re-start. I was worried about club legend Terry Andrews on the touch line with me by now because he was so cold. He was turning blue. Dapper as always, his blue suede shoes were for dancing not watching rugby. Hopefully he’ll be fine.
There was more to write about later on in the game with Sutton contributing to a more livelier period of play. They tried to play out of their 22 metre area and made a mistake which Dan O’Brien scooped up and scored his second try of the game and duly converted for a 12-5 lead.
From Sutton’s kick-off Ben Nuttall charged onto it and KJ Henry broke the line. He passed to Jamie Mapletoft who this time just ran due North and scored under the posts. The conversion made it 19-7 and the attention went to getting the bonus point necessary if Newbold are to stay in touch with Bromsgrove at the top of the table.
It was pretty even for the rest of the game but Newbold finished the stronger and again proved that they can pull a rabbit from a hat when needed. They built pressure near Sutton’s try line and after repeated efforts and penalty advantages Danny Facer crashed over. Dan O’Brien’s conversion took him over 240 points for the season according to Team Manager and statto Dave Smith, and it took Newbold to a bonus point win.
It’s Whitchurch at home in two weeks time (February 9), which is difficult enough, and leaders Bromsgrove the week after.