rugby-6Southend Saxons 45-12 Sutton & Epsom

Sutton travelled to a resurgent Saxons defending a proud 100% record in fixtures against the Essex triumvirate of Colchester, Southend and Westcliff. That statistic was swept away in the opening half hour. The Saxons with a very comfortable bonus point win gained a vital lifeline in their fight for survival. For the hosts a 45-12 win will be encouragement for their testing end of season against the unholy trinity of Hertford, Westcombe Park and Tonbridge Juddians.

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On a sunny afternoon at Warners Bridge Park there was a strong wind which Southend used to full effect in the opening period. The Essex team opened the scoring after eight minutes when a sumptuous offload in the centre created the space for the try. Fly-half Bradley Burr added the extras, his first points in a faultless kicking display that garnered six conversions and a penalty during proceedings. The Saxons had opened with greater intensity and looked to get it wide to their speedy wingers. As the first quarter drew to a close they secured a second try. Following numerous reset scrums a penalty try was awarded. Within ten minutes a dropped ball in midfield created a turnover that Southend spun wide for Daniel Cleare to weave his way to the line. Sutton awoke from their slumber to score from a catch and drive from an attacking line out to usher Theo Skoumbourdis over the line. Steve Munford added the conversion for 21-7. Any hopes of a Black & White revival were quoshed two minutes later as poor tackling allowed a try in the corner. With barely a half hour played the Warners Bridge Park crowd were cheering a crucial bonus point. The trusty boot of Bradley Burr extended the lead with a penalty before S&E besieged the try line with time running out in the first half. Eventually Dave Dyer created enough space for centre partner James Faaatuatu to force his way over. The team from Rugby Lane went into the interval break 31-12 behind with the advantage of the wind to come.

In the third quarter the visitors enjoyed more possession but failed to capitalise on the wind. Too often promising positions were undone by errors or giving away penalties. As the game became looser and mistakes multiplied the only highlights of a rather indifferent half of rugby were two splendid tries by Southend Saxons in the last ten minutes. First they exploited an overlap to race in from 40 metres. They saved the best for last with the final play of the game. The back division running onto the ball with pace and timing their passes to perfection swept down the pitch to conclude a one-sided contest.

Next Saturday Sutton & Epsom entertain champions elect Tonbridge Juddians at Rugby Lane. They will need to put this disappointing performance behind them and regroup if they are to avoid a very testing afternoon on April Fools Day.

Sutton: Jamie See, Kyren Ghumra, James Faaatuatu, Dave Dyer, Ian Knott, Steve Munford, David Watts, Raynn Bruce, Phillip Williams, Craig Bellringer, Matt Harwood, Mike Blakeburn, James Colclough, George London, Matt Whitaker. Replacements (all used): Theo Skoumbourdis, James Caddy, Joe Ridgley.