Sutton & Epsom come out on top in clash of the big two
Sutton & Epsom stretched their lead at the top of London Division Two South West to five points after beating title rivals Tottonians 37-33 in a pulsating encounter at Rugby Lane.
Both sides played a fast offloading game, with Sutton having the edge at the tight scrums and line outs, and Tottonians having a superb rolling maul when they chose to use it.
The visitors were quickly out of the starting blocks and for five minutes pinned Sutton back, but superb defence meant they only came away with a penalty kicked by their fly half Dave Woods.
This was rubbed out a minute later when Sutton’s wing Steve Warnham kicked a penalty for Sutton.
Sutton now began to get some possession and a powerful break out of defence by lock David Crowest ended with centre Andy Nichols chipping over the defence and scoring in the corner - the conversion was missed.
Back came Tottonians and after some unrewarded hard work they were forced to settled for a penalty from Woods.
Sutton hooker James Bennett and Tottonians prop Matt Searle were sent to the sin bin, but Tottonians broke through and their captain Mike Searle scored under posts - Woods converted to give them an 8-13 lead.
This was very short lived as Sutton’s flanker Shawn Renwick charged down an attempted clearance kick, gathered the ball and scored wide on the left, and Warnham converted to restore Sutton's lead.
The hosts went further ahead just after half time when, following a scrum wide on Sutton’s left, the ball went along the line to replacement full back Jak Martin who drew the last defender, gave the perfect pass to wing Mike Cartledge who dived over in the corner for an unconverted score.
However, moments later a Tottonian centre Mike Searle sliced through the Sutton defence to score under the posts, and Woods levelled the score with the conversion.
Sutton stepped up a gear, and a mazy break from Warnham ended with Renwick going over for his second, and Sutton’s bonus point, try - which Warnham converted.
A Woods penalty for Tottonians narrowed the score but that man Warnham took control again giving an inch perfect pass to Martin who went over in the corner for an unconverted try.
With time ticking away, Woods kicked a penalty to narrow Sutton’s lead to eight points but seconds later Sutton’s replacement flanker Joe Ridgely stole the ball at a ruck and released Andy Nichols for an unconverted try in the corner.
With three minutes to go, Sutton lost lock Austin Sheppard to the sin bin for killing the ball, and Tottonians battered away at the home line to eventually send their wing Gareth Allen in at the corner for a bonus point try - Woods converted with the last kick of the game.
Both sides deservedly went away with something, Sutton with five points for the win and bonus point try, Tottonians with a losing bonus point and a bonus point try.
On Saturday, Sutton host KCS Old Boys (kick off 3pm).