Sutton & Epsom too strong, Chiltern well below their best
Having enjoyed an excellent pre-season build up Chiltern were looking forward to getting the season underway.
Unfortunately, a run of late injuries meant the originally selected side were denuded of all recognised lineout jumpers and it showed throughout the match. Despite an excellent performance in the scrum, Chiltern were second best in most other parts of the game.
Sutton won the equivalent league to Chiltern last year but unlike us have been able to retain a settled side with only one change from the side that finished last year. In contrast, Chiltern were only able to field 5 players who had played in the title wining game last year and it showed.
The first 15 minutes saw Sutton play good solid rugby, retaining possession and recycling the ball again and again. When Chiltern did get a sniff of the ball, rushed passes and poor handling saw the ball given away regularly.
After 15 minutes good interplay in the Chiltern 22 saw the Sutton forwards drive over the line for the first try, beautifully converted from wide out by the excellent Sutton 10. Chasing the game Chiltern were over anxious and after 20 minutes the first of many penalties they conceded gave the Sutton out half another 3 points, 0-10.
Chiltern came back and exerted some strong pressure through their scrum followed by a good line break by the backs. However when a try looked very possible a wild pass close to the Sutton line went astray as did the chance of a settling score.
Another dropped ball at the restart allowed Sutton to drive upfield and only some desperate defence kept the visitors at bay. Sutton conceded a scrum in the Chiltern 22 and having comfortably secured the ball, somehow Chiltern got in a horrible tangle and neatly passed the ball to a grateful Sutton 9 who sauntered over under the posts for their second converted try, 0-17 after 25 minutes and an uncomfortable time facing Chiltern!
A last minute penalty for yet another infringement gave Sutton the chance to extend their lead which they duly did 0-20 and half time reached.
The Chiltern coaches rung the changes at half time which definitely gave Chiltern a more solid look but too many unnecessary infringements coughed up another 3 penalties and a dropped goal. Chiltern did show some real spirit and sense for a well worked try of their own scored by debutant hooker Ed Church after a period of sustained play and retained possession.
Chiltern were finding it so difficult to gain territory as the line out was misfiring so badly. Four times after winning penalties themselves they had to opt to scrummage to retain some worthwhile ball which left them attacking from much deeper than they would have liked.
There were very promising debuts from Ian Stock, Jack Elborn, Nicholas Harrison and Mike McDonald but deprived of any real quality possession the elusive Chiltern backs struggled to gain any worthwhile go forward ball.
The consolation was that we lost while playing poorly and we know we didn’t do ourselves justice, it would have been far worse if we had lost and played well!
Next week will be a very tough fixture away to Hertford who finished well up the table last season. We must however remember that we did the double over Hertford two years ago and we should have a much stronger side on the park next week, so fingers tightly crossed.