Sutton & Epsom RFC Women 39 – Medway Women 7 – Saturday 3rd December – The Sutton & Epsom Women’s XV have enjoyed much success in recent years. The impressive performances have continued this season in Championship South East 2 in the third tier of the rugby pyramid. They started the day in second place in the table snapping at the heels of Battersea Ironsides. The Black & Whites were unbeaten at home whilst their opponents, Medway, in contrast had only recorded two wins this season. The match went according to form with Sutton winning in style by 39-7.
On a cold afternoon under lights at Rugby Lane Medway kicked off with S&E playing towards the Cabbage Page. The hosts went in search of the opening score to stamp their authority on proceedings. Stern defence and S&E errors thwarted the early promising opportunities. After 10 minutes a huge clearance by Jayne Meadows was complimented by a superb kick-chase. Sutton turned over the ball and Jayne Meadows glided threw a gap and sauntered home to open the scoring. Though the experienced fly half failed to convert her own try the hosts were leading 5-0. The next try was a sensational solo score by Aegean Leech that demonstrated all the qualities required for a top class back. With great vision she cut back inside, running with balance and speed she evaded numerous tacklers to score. Jayne Meadows added the extras for a 12-0 lead.
As the first quarter was ending Jayne Meadows sublime cross-field kick had the defence scrambling and the ravenous Sutton chasers forced the turnover. The initial opportunity was wasted but this was just a temporary stay of execution. A burst from Jo Evans broke the line and Rachel Kinsella, left with plenty to do, finished superbly in the corner despite a thunderous covering tackle. The touchline conversion fell short as the Surrey women stretched their lead to 17-0. The visitors stormed back with a surging run from full back Katie Young. Encouraged by this the forwards took over and pressed hard to open the Medway account. Prop Hannah Lee powered her way over from close-range for a well-deserved try. Jemma Thripp’s sweetly struck conversion bisected the uprights to reduce the deficit to 7-17.
As the interval approached winger Lucy Hoad was only denied a try by a fine cover tackle. The ball was swung back to the opposite side of the pitch and Jo Evans perfect pass put away by Rachel Kinsella for her second try of the afternoon. Jo Evans, taking over the kicking duties, failed to add to the 22-7 score. However, Sutton had suffered a significant loss in personnel as Jayne Meadows was forced to retire with a hamstring injury. The fly half had oozed class all game, orchestrating the attack with prodigious territorial kicking, thoughtful distribution and the opening try. S&E reshuffled the deck as Jo Evans moved up from 15 to 10 and replacement Abby Wynne slotted in at full back. In the dying moments of the first period Lucy Hoad was again thwarted by a tremendous tackle and soon after the referee blew for half time with Sutton & Epsom leading 22-7.
Medway needed to score early in the second period to try to turn the tide. They responded with great spirit and were soon pressing on the Sutton line. The Black & White defence was up to the challenge and having cleared the danger introduced Emily Grainger and Isabelle Keith off the bench to replace Rachel Balcombe and Natalie McCall. The Priestfields outfit were enjoying their best passage of play as they encamped in the host’s half but try as they might they could not add to their score. Indeed it was the Rugby Lane team that were next to cross the whitewash. A dominant scrummage provided the platform to spin it wide. Rachel Kinsella was denied her third score but was able to offload to Aegean Leech for the easiest of tries. Jo Evans added the conversion for a 29-7 lead.
The game entered the final quarter with the team from Rochester determined to add to their solitary try whilst Sutton hoped to exploit any gaps that might appear. The game swung from end to end as a try-saving tackle Abby Wynne denied a deserved score for the visitors. Moments later Rachel Kinsella was again thwarted by Katie Youngs’ tackle.
Perhaps it was fitting that the best team try of the afternoon concluded with Rachel Kinsella completing her hat trick. A clean line out ball was advanced by the forwards, the ball was released to the backs and a perfect pass by Aegean Leech was gathered by the flying winger who finished with aplomb. Sutton & Epsom missed the conversion but had stretched their lead to 34-7. Perhaps the frustration of being denied the additional score that their efforts warranted led to a bit of frustration in the Medway ranks. The Kent team conceded a penalty and one of their number was deemed too loquacious for the referee’s tastes and they were marched back an additional 10 metres. With five minutes left of the clock the hosts added a seventh and final try. It was the turn of replacement Abby Wynne to demonstrate agile footwork to weave her way to the line to make it 39-7. Though there were no additional scores the visitors showed great spirit in trying to add to their account.
Nobody watching would have begrudged them a try as their second half performance and effort deserved more than they got. The referee blew the final whistle and Sutton & Epsom had maintained the pressure on the Battersea Ironsides who also had an impressive win at Canterbury, 36-15.
The Black & Whites thoroughly deserved their win. It was an excellent performance from all of the squad. The front row triumvirate of Jones, Forsyth and Styan maintained the solid platform from the scrummage. The back five provided a constant stream of quick ball for the back division. Sutton have considerable pace in the three-quarters with Zoe Smith spreading it wide to the creative hub in the centres Olivia Lambe and Aegean Leech. Wingers Rachel Kinsella and Lucy Hoad got the ball with time and space and on this occasion it was the former who took the glory with a tremendous trio of tries. In addition Jo Evans coming into the line from full back is another potent weapon. Medway fought hard to the bitter end and were competitive from the first to the last minute with the pack providing territory and possession but they could not convert pressure into points.
Sutton & Epsom
Jo Evans, Lucy Hoad, Aegean Leech, Olivia Lambe, Rachel Kinsella, Jayne Meadows, Zoe
Smith, Tia Jones, Harriet Forsyth, Caroline Styan, Alex Parker, Rachel Balcombe, Alice
Clarke, Bernadette Rees & Natalie McCall.
Replacements: (all used) Emily Grainger, Isabelle Keith & Abby Wynne.
Katie Young, Marisa Gould, Alisha Coulson, Naomi Quinn, Aimee Haslam, Jemma Thripp,
Emily Stalley, Hannah Lee, Zoe Gardiner, Gemma Duncan, Alex Davis, Caroline Jordan,
Anna Saunders, Chloe Sedge & Corinna Griffiths.
Michelle Darby, Ann Robertson & Ellie Warren.