Rugby action at eybridge match

London Calling Time with a Sutton & Epsom Win


Sutton & Epsom RFC 12 Reeds Weybridge 10. Saturday 6th April.

As is the format of league rugby the fixtures conclude by playing the opposition first
encountered on the opening day of the campaign. On that September afternoon bathed in
glorious sunshine but disrupted by Rugby World Cup absentees, of the carousing rather
than playing variety, Reeds Weybridge gained a 27-12 success. With both teams secure in
the knowledge that they had retained their Regional 2 South East status for next time one
might have expected a high-scoring denouement to the campaign. In the end the teams
created a Sutton & Epsom league record as the Black & Whites edged the contest 12-10 so
recording the lowest aggregate ever for the last game of the season undercutting the
1995 classic when S&E won 13-11 at Ealing.

It was a red-letter day for George London as the veteran, but not balding, back row
made his 200th league appearance for the 1 st XV transforming the ‘Fab Four’ into the
‘Famous Five’ of players to have reached that landmark. The match was played with the
handicap, or advantage, of a howling wind arrowing towards the corner flag at the
clubhouse end. Reeds Weybridge kicked off with the elements against them. At once the
significance of the gale was demonstrated as Tom Lennard cleared from his 22 to the
opposition 22. If that was not harsh enough it was a 50/22 and Sutton were awarded the

This initiated a ten-minute siege of the Reeds line. The throw in was secured, the
forwards advanced and a penalty was indicated as a speculative ball descended from the
heavens onto the wings. The defenders saved the day but returned for more punishment.
The penalty was kicked to the corner, McTaggart rose skywards to gather and initiate the
second assault. Three carries and a penalty and the same dose of medicine was repeated.
This time the referee issued a yellow card and Sutton & Epsom pressed on against 14. A tap and
go, a roar from the crowd but no try and it went wide and more optimistic overtures as
Ghumra dived for the corner. Back for another penalty and the Rugby Lane crowd were
beseeching Sir to indicate a try but Hegarty was held up. Reeds relief and a drop out
under the posts to restart play. The Black & Whites countered with zeal and finally opened
their account. Perhaps Mr Richardson had a sense of occasion as the try-scorer was
George London. The conversion was added but with another dramatic twist as Freddy
Bunting was allowed a second bite at the cherry and the hosts led 7-0.

The opening score was not the sign of the floodgates opening but saw the visitors
getting a foothold in the game. It was obvious that Reeds were looking to play at a high
tempo and get the ball to their dangerous back division. Penalties were played quickly and
the RW pack was gaining the ascendancy at the scrummage. On the half hour they were
rewarded with an outstanding try. The combination of superb line of running by Pete Cole
and a perfectly timed pass saw winger Matt Stevenson run in under the posts with four
colleagues in congratulatory support. Fullback Pete Cole added the extras to level the
scores at 7-7. Moments later it took two tremendous tackles within a minute by Josh
Pulvirenti to snuff out a potential break from halfway. Despite the conditions it was Reeds
who were finishing the first half the stronger with centre Josh Clark to the fore using
intelligent chips and grubbers to keep Sutton on the back foot. The first period ended with
no further addition to the scoreboard. Reeds Weybridge had achieved the notable success
of being on level terms despite playing against a very strong wind.

The start of the second period was a mirror of the first which was hardly surprising
as there was no easing up from the elements. The men from Whiteley Village dominated
territory and possession but they discovered, as had their Sutton counterparts, that those
final yards were the hardest. Marcus Clark on the wing came closest to breaking the
deadlock but the S&E defensive line stood strong whether it was Kyren Ghumra on the
wing or the tireless pack. Increasingly the flow of the game was disrupted by
infringements on the deck that created a stalemate that prevented the Reeds backs
demonstrating their quality and gave the Sutton & Epsom defence added confidence in what was a
surprisingly uneventful third quarter.

The final twenty minutes signalled the start of increased excitement as Matt
Stevenson’s quickly taken penalty appeared to have caught Sutton & Epsom napping. However, a
fabulous cover tackle by Captain Bunting was a most timely intervention that was
improved when S&E were awarded a relieving penalty. Soon it was advantage Sutton & Epsom with
Freddie Bunting making a surging break to the 22 to link with centre partner Ellis Rudder
that concluded with a Sutton penalty. The resulting 5-metre attacking lineout drifted on
the wind with a not straight verdict giving the visitors an escape route. Perhaps it was
frustration but the visitors ignored the helpful conditions to run the ball from their own
line. The yards gained were immediately lost to a penalty and petulance that saw them
marched back 10 metres. Ironically Reeds next opportunity came as Sutton lost the ball in
the opposition 22 and it was fly-hacked clear. Suddenly the pitch opened up with RW
players streaming ominously forward but Austin Bell did wonderfully to secure the loose
ball to avert disaster on halfway.

With the game in the balance and in time added on Reeds were within touching
distance of glory but had the consolation of a penalty. It was an easy decision for captain
Herbie Finn to opt for the kick at goal as fullback Pete Cole effortlessly put the visitors 10-
7 up. One could imagine Captain Finn imploring his team to secure the restart and send it
deep into Sutton territory and on no account concede a penalty. With the billowing breeze
making the restart more of a lottery than it might have been the Black & Whites were
given the lifeline of a penalty. It was advanced to the corner and another penalty followed
the lineout. Sutton went for route one as tempers boiled over before the final play of the
season. The forwards provide a mass of steaming humanity on the try-line and Rob
Hegarty squeezed over to win the game for Sutton & Epsom. It was left for George London to
attempt the touchline conversion and despite a passable impression of All Black legend
Don Clarke it fell short. The final whistle blew and Sutton & Epsom had snatched victory by 12-10.
The supporters retired to the clubhouse and for those who live in a tinkerless world
they ruminated on what might have been in 2023-4. The Sutton & Epsom victory was synonymous
with the man of the hour, George London, it was full of determination, a never say die
attitude and a will to win in adversity that saw Sutton over the line. Reeds had the edge in
the scrummage and the more threatening back division. However, the powerful wind did
not bring the anticipated cascade of points as both XVs demonstrated determined defence
and it was the Black & Whites who gained the points by virtue of winning the try battle by
2-1 but only at the eleventh hour with Brunnhilde on her final chorus.

Sutton & Epsom
O’Brien, Findlay, Rudder, Bunting ©, Ghumra, Lennard, Munford, Boaden, Farrell, Gibson,
Glanville, McTaggart, London, Pulvirenti & Hegarty.
Replacements: Al Khaldi, Jones & Bell.

Reeds Weybridge
Cole, Stevenson, J. Clark, Maddock, Brown, Jesty, Palmer, L. Day, R. Day, Ring, Finn ©,
Wasko, G. Corner, Collyer, A. Corner.
Replacements: Rawding, Relfe & M. Clark.

Image courtesy Robin Kennedy

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