Hertford 38-20 Sutton & Epsom
Despite the margin of defeat this was a case of a frustrating afternoon for the Black & Whites who had led 17-14 at the break. Ultimately the hosts demonstrated why they are in the upper echelons of the table as they ruthlessly took their opportunities in the second period for a 38-20 victory.
The home crowd did not have to wait long for the opening score as right wing Ben Creasey outpaced the cover to cross the whitewash. Ben Lloyd added the extras for a 7-0 lead. Sutton then settled into an even first quarter as the pack were solid in the scrum and won their line out ball. S&E deservedly equalised after sustained pressure demonstrating patience and control before releasing Sam Hurley to canter into the corner.
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Steve Munford converted from the flank to level the score at 7-7. Within minutes the Hertfordshire club had regained the lead after quick thinking from their captain and scrum-half Michael Sergent with a tap penalty that created a try for Dave Archer. Ben Lloyd did the necessary for a 14-7 lead. But Sutton & Epsom continued to take the game to their opponents to end the half in fine style. A darting run from Matt Whitaker set up Ian Knott to touch down in the corner. Steve Munford converted and followed that with a penalty that concluded the half with the visitors 17-14 to the good.
The second period started disastrously with a yellow card which was punished by Hertford who regained the lead 21-17. The men from Rugby Lane suffered no further scores when reduced to 14 men. However, they never rediscovered the fluency and control of the first half. In contrast the Hoe Lane faithful had plenty more to savour. Approaching the hour mark Dave Archer claimed not only the bonus point try but also his second score of the fixture. Steve Munford reduced the deficit with a penalty but the hosts added a couple more tries via full-back Ben Lloyd and wing Monkey Allan. Both scores illustrated their pace on the flanks and their clinical back play to send the Black & Whites home with a 38-20 loss.
For Sutton & Epsom the forwards in particular were outstanding in the first-half holding their own in every aspect of the game. Mike Blakeburn carried and tackled with his usual menace which is no mean achievement for a player in his second outing of this campaign after a year of relative inactivity. Matt Whitaker returning to the fold was prominent in all the best passages of Sutton play. Much credit should go to the hosts who looked to spin it wide at every opportunity utilising their excellent back three. Too often for S&E in the second half turnover ball not only squandered promising attacking positions but led to points for Hertford.
League action returns to Rugby Lane next Saturday, 26th November, with the visit of Southend Saxons, who were relegated with Dorking from National League 2, for a 3pm kick off.