On a dry, cloudy, still and mild afternoon, Cobham’s 1st XV squad welcomed Sutton & Epsom to Fairmile Lane last Saturday (18 November). This was the visitors first trip for a number of years, following their visits to level four and five over the last few seasons.
Cobham were welcomed onto the pitch by a guard of honour from the Cobham Under 10s and on the stroke of 2.30pm, Olly Carter from the London Society blew his whistle and the game commenced. Sutton won possession and cleared but straight to Ryan Saunders, who set the backs moving and centre Will Stephens nearly went over. However, the ball was lost and we had our first scrum, Sutton ball.
A great Cobham shove and the visitors were under pressure. Centre Taylor Burnett went for an interception and despite nearly getting the ball, was penalised. Sutton took play to halfway where they won their lineout, but after 12 phases and great defence from Cobham, we won the ball back on halfway. Sutton threw too long and Murph, on his first game back, took it on, but the ball was lost close to the Sutton line. Another solid Cobham effort and a penalty resulted in the opening points of the match (3-0).
We won the kick-off, ran it back and a penalty for a high tackle gave Cobham an attacking lineout. Possession was won and driven close to the line, various pick and goes followed and finally Murph was there to score. Cobham led 8-0 after 15 minutes and all was going well.
The restart went deep and was missed by all but the bounce was kind for the visitors and suddenly they were on the attack. Following a ruck on the Cobham twenty-two, their number 8 noticed no one at home, picked up possession and ran-in unopposed to score under the posts (8-7).
Sutton ran the kick-off back but then resorted to kicking deep. Cobham attacked but a dropped ball on halfway was collected by the visitors New Zealand import, who left all behind him as he sprinted to the posts (8-14). Sadly, the next restart went straight out and so a Sutton scrum on halfway. During the visitors next attack, the winger went into touch but in the melee, Murph suffered a hand injury that meant Ryan Aujla came on to the unusual position of hooker.
Fair play to him, we won the lineout and kicked deep into the Sutton half and winning the ball back allowed the forwards to pick and go a few times before loosehead Chris Lippiatt went over; 13-14 with 30 minutes gone.
Real pressure was once again applied by Cobham and Sutton were penalised for hands in the ruck, so Cobham went for the posts and went back in front (16-14) as we approached half-time. Sutton had an attacking lineout and a great drive was all but over the line, but Cobham were penalised for collapsing. The penalty went into touch but great pressure from Joe Goddard and the Sutton lineout was lost. However, a high tackle allowed Sutton to restore their slender lead (16-17). The final two minutes of the half was messy, with a few aimless kicks from both sides, but the last kick from Sutton was allowed to bounce on the Cobham twenty-two and it popped up into the visitors’ hands over they went for a killer blow, right on the whistle (16-24).
Sutton got the second half underway and Cobham struggled to clear from deep inside their own half. After no real danger, another high tackle allowed Sutton to take the points and extend their lead (16-27). Cobham needed to get back in the game and although Sutton attacked, great defence and a rip from Saunders saw possession won back. Sadly, that was the last action for Saunders, as he was injured and replaced by Ed Jackson on debut, with full back Rory Penfold moving to scrum half. The next 16 minutes maybe summed up Cobham's afternoon. Luke Westgarth Taylor replaced Wes in the second row, as most of this time was spent in the Sutton half. Although various attacks went close, there were a couple of dropped passes when tries looked possible.
One attack led to a great break from Olly Horton, who was unopposed in the Sutton twenty-two, but was caught by their speedy 13 and you felt that with actions like this, Sutton were becoming more and more vocal and confident. When Cobham were penalised for a tackle off the ball almost on halfway, Sutton went for goal and the ball soared through the posts; 16-30 with 10 minutes to play.
Cobham were now trying to get on the scoreboard for the first time in the second half; many attacks got close, but the final pass always seemed to go to the floor and the pressure was relieved. One attack from a lineout on halfway gave Cobham possession but the Sutton defence was now very determined and when we went right, it was to our two props and the play was lost. From a scrum penalty, Sutton set-up an attacking lineout, and the inevitable bonus point try followed (16-37).
After another Cobham attack, where a score looked inevitable, pressure was applied and a sliced kick to touch looked to give Cobham a lineout on Sutton's twenty-two. However, the ball bounced in-field and away from the covering Cobham players and straight to Sutton's winger. A few phases later and the visitors scored the final try of the match (16-44). Even after this, Cobham had a great chance to score but the final pass went to ground and that summed up the afternoon perfectly.
Well played Sutton – your league position is maybe misleading but today they took their points and kicked their goals. Despite Cobham creating a lot, we left a few out there for sure. A week off is no bad thing and next up is Old Alleynians, who easily beat Ironsides away to once again show that most teams in this league can beat anyone on their day.
Cobham 1st XV Squad:-
1. Chris Lippiatt
2. Andrew Murphy
3. Luke Bliss
4. Wesley Van Der Ploeg
5. Joe Goddard
6. Louis Porter
7. Olly Fox
8. Doug Rodman
9. Ryan Saunders (Capt.)
10. Jonny Holmes
11. Ollie Horton
12. Will Stephen
13. Taylor Burnett
14. Ollie Alcorn
15. Rory Penfold
Tries: Murphy, Lippiatt
Penalties: Holmes (2)