Sutton & Epsom RFC 26 – Camberley 50. Saturday 4th February. This fixture was scheduled for December but fell victim to the freezing weather. Camberley arrived smarting from a most unexpected defeat, only the second of their campaign, at the hands of lowly Bournemouth and were keen to return to winning ways. In contrast Sutton hoped to gain inspiration from the Chapel Gate upset and record a priceless win. After a wonderfully entertaining
encounter with a dozen tries it was the visitors who claimed the victory, but not all the plaudits, with a 50-26 success.
Image courtesy Robin Kennedy
Liam Prescott kicked off towards the clubhouse for Camberley and S&E were soon awarded
a penalty at the breakdown. Sutton had the first opportunity to open the scoring from the line out
on the opposition 22. Rob Hegarty carried well and that began an onslaught on the opposition line.
Probing runs from George Drye and Stefan Cooksammy saw the ball move from one side of the
pitch to the other against sterling defence by their lofty opponents. Then, agonisingly, George
Owen intercepted the ball 5 metres from his line and after some juggling secured the ball and
sped away down the touchline to score the first of his hat trick of tries. Liam Prescott impressively
slotted the conversion from touch for 7-0. Undeterred by the setback Sutton stormed back and the
sidestepping Kyren Ghumra was stopped 5 metres short. The ball was quickly spun to the opposite
flank for Ollie Baptiste-Wilson to score. Freddy Bunting levelled it for 7-7. It was a mightily
impressive reply considering the deflating nature on the earlier score.
Sutton & Epsom had started impressively and had met Camberley’s first sorties were met
with resolute defence as both sides tried to assert themselves territorially with well-placed kicks.
As the end of the first quarter approached the Watchetts XV kicked a penalty into the corner. Their
lineout very efficient lineout catch and drive set up prop Adam Pickett for a try. Though Liam
Prescott failed with the conversion they had regained the lead at 12-7. This score initiated 20
minutes of stunning rugby as Camberley produced the best passage of play seen at Rugby Lane
this season or, indeed, on any of the Black & Whites’ travels this campaign.
From another attacking line out the well-oiled machine churned out another try as Dom
Sammut powered over. Liam Prescott added the extras for 19-7. If these two scores were
functional and efficient the next four were far more thrilling in their execution. As if to prove they
were not one trick ponies the next line out ball was spun wide to be to be touched down in the
corner by George Owen. Liam Prescott converted from the touchline for 26-7 and the vital bonus
point was secured. A clinical finish that was a mere hors d’oeuvres to the sumptuous feast that
was to follow. Camberley won a scrum near halfway and went left and Liam Prescott put the
runner into space as wonderfully angled running and passes were interchanged to see centre Alex
Young score. Liam Prescott bisected the uprights for 33-7. Sutton cause was not aided as they lost
Stefan Cooksammy to a dislocated shoulder. The emboldened visitors were in no mood for
sympathy and were running the ball from everywhere. A 50-metre burst from their 22 down the
left was then recycled and spun to the right as brisk well-timed passes saw try number six.
Moments later try number seven was a replica of the previous one for 43-7. The timing of the
passes, the pace and the unselfish play were breathtaking as Nick Barry scored and Alex Young
collected his second try. The only surprise was that Liam Prescott’s conversions had drifted wide.
Sutton were dealt another injury blow when winger Kyren Ghumra withdrew injured. The
rearranged back division saw Ross Parsons off the bench to 9, Austin Bell retreat to 15 and
Lawrence Elliott slot in in the centres. Meanwhile Captain Chris Farrell was press-ganged into the
backs. From adversity sprung hope as the half ended with prop Alex Mount crossing the whitewash
and Freddy Bunting converting to make the score 43-14 at the break. It had been a half of
fabulous rugby but the Rugby Lane crowd must have been a little bit concerned over their interval beverage how their emergency three-quarter unit would cope against the expected second half
The contest resumed and Sutton put on a display of rare character and courage against
their esteemed opponents and making light of adversity they threw themselves into attack in
glorious style from the first whistle. Replacement prop Joe Reid was added to the mix and Sutton
won a penalty from the scrum they had been awarded from the restart. Ross Parsons took it
quickly and broke down field as excellent support play saw Josh Glanville score. Freddy Bunting
made it 21-43 for a perfect start to the second half for the hosts. Both sides threw caution to the
wind confident in their ability to add to their tally of tries. It was breathless stuff with S&E with
limited possession not only resolute in defence but attacking with panache at every opportunity.
The hosts secured a bonus point with their own catch and drive try that saw George Drye touch
down which was a deserved reward for a superb display by the lock forward. The only blemish
was a rare miss from Freddy Bunting as the Black & Whites now trailed 26-43.
Camberley attempted to reassert their scoreboard superiority but the Rugby Lane team
was emboldened by their tries and were now formidable in defence. Ross Parsons and Chris Farrell
in quick succession stopped the visitors near the line. S&E withstood a 5-metre catch and drive
and turned the ball over on the line. The siege was lifted and Sutton returned to the front foot
seeking another score. Indeed, it took until the final play of the game for the Black & White line to
be breached. It needed a deft piece of skill by Liam Prescott to deflect the pass under pressure to
George Owen who squeezed in at the corner to complete his hat trick. The redoubtable Prescott
converted from touch and Mr Powdrell concluded proceedings with Camberley 50-26 winners.
The visitors were excellent from 1 to 15, they not only had power and pace but clinical
precision exploiting every overlap in a thrilling display of 15-man rugby. However, by keeping
Camberley to a solitary second half try in the final moment was a measure of the quality, character
and determination of S&E’s performance in the second period. Making light of the mitigating
circumstances of the injuries they again showed at Rugby Lane they are a XV that plays well
above their lowly position in the table.
Next Saturday S&E host local rivals Wimbledon who are on the crest of a wave having won
every game this season following an opening day blip against Camberley. Having not being
inconvenienced by the elements they sit on top of the table with the handsome advantage of
points secured on the board. At Barham Road in the reverse fixture against S&E the Dons were
41-10 winners despite a very spirited display by the Black & Whites. The match will kick off at
Rugby Lane at 2:30pm.
Sutton & Epsom
Lawrence Elliott, Ollie Baptiste-Wilson, Sam Hurley, Stefan Cooksammy, Kyren Ghumra, Freddy
Bunting, Austin Bell, Alex Mount, Chris Farrell ©, Will Lloyd, George Drye, Josh Glanville, George
London, Rob Hegarty & Tom Brooker.
Replacements: (all used) Joe Reid, Tom French & Ross Parsons.
Victor Hardwicke, Max McCarthy, Alex Young, Jaid Wiltshire, George Owen, Liam Prescott, Alistair
Walton, Adam Pickett, Michael Clarke, Nicholas Barry, Sam Voight, Dom Sammut, Ed Grosvenor,
Chris Bird ©, Alex Hughes.
Replacements: (all used)
George Franzel, Josh Watson & Joseph Wood.