Sutton & Epsom 22 Chobham 30 : Director of Rugby Nigel Guy Match Report :
Recent fixtures between these two Surrey clubs have produced some titanic battles. A year ago a score in the eleventh minute of injury time gave S&E a victory and shattered Chobham’s 26 match unbeaten record. Chobham turned the tables in the Surrey Trophy final to win the cup with last minute try. So all to play for. Chob with two wins under their belt were confident but not underestimating S&E who despite two losses had run both Guildford and Cobham close. Chob’s starting line-up showed two changes from the side that defeated Twickenham. In came Mike McDonald and Ollie Smith for their first starts of the season with skipper Tony Paul and lock Dom Sammut reaching the fifty appearance milestone. An overcast but dry day greeted the players.
S&E were first on the board with scrum half Steve Mumford slotting an easy penalty with just 1 minute on the clock as Chobham went off their feet at the breakdown. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 0. Four minutes later James Dunne returned the compliment to level the scores. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 3. With both sides cancelling each other out, we saw the first casualty of the day with the visitor’s hooker Adam Blemings being retired after a heavy bang to the head. Tom Riley took his place in the front row. On 20 minutes Chobham took the lead. A speculative up and under from wing Josh Devitt was misfielded by the home defence and following up his kick Devitt collected it in a flash and roared over the try line. Dunne converted. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 10. The next period of play was interrupted by a series of knocks reflecting the intensely physical nature of the encounter and physios Cherry O’Sullivan and the visitor’s Ellen Cook found themselves having a busy afternoon. The breaks in play made life difficult for both sides and with handling proving a challenge, neither side was able to assert superiority. On 25 minutes the visitors started to crank up the pressure on the home team. Dunne slotted a penalty. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 13. Play moved into the home 22 but again injuries disrupted the pattern with number 8 Smith requiring lengthy treatment following a typically barnstorming break was brought to a shuddering halt that made even the crowd wince. The penalty count against the home team started to rise with first skipper James Caddy seeing yellow followed shortly after by his back row colleague George London. Could the home side press the advantage? A short range Dunne penalty cannoned off the post but was scrambled clear. Wide man McDonald found some space and with a shimmy and step he was away before putting in his fellow wing Devitt in for a try. Dunne’s conversion was wide. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 18. Mumford had chance to take three points but his kick was wide before referee Mr Matthews brought an elongated first half to a close. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 18.
Head coach Ryan Gregory and skipper Paul were at pains to praise the first half’s effort against a team who had worked their socks off to disrupt Chob’s pattern of play. Focus and discipline were the key priorities for the second half.
With a two man advantage it was important that Chob struck quickly in the second half. A strong scrum in the home 22 saw Dave Askew link with Ian Barnes before putting in full back Harry Guy who muscled his way through the home defence to score the try. Dunne didn’t add the extras. Sutton & Epsom 3 Chobham 23. If anyone thought that was it, they certainly don’t know S&E’s indomitable spirit. On 50 minutes Dunne’s clearance kick was charged down and Mumford touched down for the score but failed with the extras. Sutton & Epsom 8 Chobham 23. This gave the home team now back at full strength some self-belief. With their narrow attacks, the Chob defence was tested physically but not territorially, but on 65 minutes the game turned gain. S&E’s fly half Frankie Murray chipped the ball through but instead of bouncing into the arms of the three waiting Chobham defenders it popped back into Murray’s arms for the try. With Mumford converting, it was game on. Sutton & Epsom 15 Chobham 23. Back came Sutton. Full back Guy was called into last ditch action to pull off a fine tackle on Matthews. Riley, prop Lee Evans and flanker Angus Hamilton were also prominent with some powerful rear-guard tackling. But prop Sonny Kuwana’s defensive hit created the match turning score. With the ball being lost in contact in the away 22, it was snaffled by Devitt who combined with Barnes to move the ball 80 metres up the field to score under the posts. Hat trick and bonus point secured. Dunne added two more. Sutton & Epsom 15 Chobham 30. With two minutes left on the clock Sutton had one more go and wing James Matthews crashed over. Extras from Mumford. Full time. Sutton & Epsom 22 Chobham 30.
Another close game with the home team making life very difficult for Chob at times. However Chob’s solid set piece and clinical finishing gave them a victory they just about deserved to take the unbeaten run to 9. With former National League Basingstoke next up at Fowler’s Wells, the players know that they will have another tough battle on their hands.
Match Report: Nigel Guy Director of Rugby Chobham RFC
Photographs: Geraint Parry & Glen Ashley