Sutton & Epsom see off Beckenham, and planning for another season in London Division One South can begin
Sutton & Epsom achieved their fourth away win of the season on Saturday with a 33-14 victory at Beckenham, scoring five tries to the opponent's two.
The result reinforces Sutton’s position in London Division One South and virtually guarantees level six rugby next season.
Sutton need just three more points from six games to be guaranteed safety, and only if Beckenham win all their remaining five games with bonus points.
In reality this was not a memorable game, with too many stops and starts thereby not allowing the game to develop any momentum.
As expected, Beckenham relied heavily upon their blitz defence and a liberal interpretation of the offside law which disrupted Sutton’s normally expansive approach through the back line.
However, once Sutton adopted a more direct style with their forwards, the Beckenham defence came under more pressure and Sutton took control of the game.
The driving maul was frequently utilised to good effect.
Steve Warnham returned to the team on the right wing having missed the Haywards Heath game through illness and new signing Hamish McKenzie made his debut from the replacements bench.
Beckenham controlled the early exchanges and scored the opening try with five minutes played.
The Sutton defence repelled a number of attacking phases but Beckenham eventually found a way to the goal line for a converted try.
Sutton were soon on the attack themselves, and Guy Stuckey-Clarke showed his pace from the 22m line to evade some loose tackles and score close to the posts, to provide Sam Hurley with a straight forward conversion.
As the half progressed Sutton began to dominate the game, a number of driving mauls were defended well by Beckenham but after a period of sustained pressure upon the Beckenham line a four man overlap was created and Stuckey-Clarke crossed for his second try of the afternoon.
The conversion from close to the touchline was missed by Hurley but Sutton had a useful half time lead of 12-7.
Sutton’s positive intentions continued in the second half and it was not long before the driving maul was working again.
James Bennett touched down after one drive of almost 30m, thanks to the conversion from Hurley, Sutton had a comfortable 12-point lead.
However, the game was not all one way traffic, on a rare foray deep into Sutton territory the Beckenham back line managed to stretch the Sutton defence on the hour to reduce the lead to five points thanks to a converted try.
Friends with benefits: James Caddy took an off-load from Felix Symonds to go over the white-wash for Sutton & Epsom
Sutton restored their lead when an excellent off load from Felix Symonds to James Caddy sent the flanker clear for the bonus point try which Hurley converted, and then Symonds himself added the fifth try to seal the victory.
This was also converted and rounded off an exceptional performance by Symonds who had been colossal in the line out and at his storming best in the loose all afternoon.
From a team perspective this was an excellent all round performance against a Beckenham team whose all action style in the first half is not always the easiest to play against
Sutton now face the top three teams in the league over the next four weeks, but this win will mean that planning for next season can now begin.
This Saturday Sutton travel to second placed Chichester, kick off is at 3pm.
Sutton & Epsom: Sam Hurley, Toby Oduyemi, Guy Stuckey – Clarke, Joe Ridgley, Steve Warnham, Frankie Murray, Jonjo Wadwa, Tariq Al Khaldi, James Bennett, Raynn Bruce, Felix Symonds, Mike Blakeburn, James Caddy, George London, Shawn Renwick.
Replacements: Hamish McKenzie, Paul Webster, Steve Burton.