Sutton Coldfield 66 Stratford 0
STRATFORD’S run of good results came to an abrupt end at the Midlands One West table-toppers on Saturday.
Stratford did not play badly but they came up against a strong, well drilled, streetwise team which was by far the best they had encountered all season.
Sutton had won all previous 20 matches, scoring an average of nearly 50 points a match in the process and it was no surprise they maintained their march to the title.
Stratford kicked off into a strong breeze and gave a good account of themselves in initial exchanges with No 8 Dave Pritchard and wing Callum Cook leading the attacks.
However, after seven minutes, the home team put a penalty to the corner and went over from the ensuing lineout and maul, the try being converted from far out.
Full back Rich Pepperell cleared his lines with a massive kick against the wind and a Stratford penalty was just wide.
Stratford then lost centre Sam Joyce to a head injury and he was replaced by Dave Supperstone, making a welcome return to the first team.
Sutton’s second try was somewhat dubious, the winger appearing to put a foot on the touchline, but from the restart there was nothing dubious, the ball being run straight back for another try, both being converted.
Sutton received a yellow card for going over the ball and a knee in the back but Stratford were unable to capitalise on the numerical superiority and, indeed, fell further behind to a bonus point fourth converted try.
Sutton were enjoying a virtual monopoly of the lineouts but flanker Marko Mladenovic took two Sutton throws in succession, leading to an attack by Pepperell.
The half ended with another converted home try after some loose play following a Sutton five metre scrum, although a Stratford player appeared to touch the ball down first.
At the start of the second half Stratford lost their other centre Elliot Smith to a head injury and he was replaced by Will Curtiss.
Sutton went further ahead with a try, but lock Ed Walton saved another try, tackling an opponent over the goal line and getting the touchdown.
Fellow lock Ali Mather also went off with a leg injury and was replaced by Tom Hall but, after several scrums on their own line, Stratford conceded another converted try.
Supperstone fielded a penalty kick on his own line and embarked on a fine run in which he beat half a dozen defenders to take play back to the halfway line.
But Sutton were not to be denied and scored another converted try.
Walton saved another try with a last ditch tackle, taking the attacker into touch in goal, but after interpassing along the back line Sutton touched down another converted try.
Pepperell was almost over for a consolation try but the match ended with a final home try.
Stratford will be aiming to bounce back when they entertain Walsall this Saturday (3pm).
MAT Jackson is already looking forward to his
LOXLEY driver Sarah Reader celebrated another podium success
LUCKLESS Stratford Town saw red after a late
Claverdon 15 Ledbury 20 BATTLING Claverdon pushed leaders
Godalming Town 2 Evesham United 3 Southern League Division One ...
STUDLEY darts ace Andy Smith begins his quest for PDC ...
Barton Under Needwood 36 Harbury 20 Midlands Four West (South) ...
FULL back Ben Howard says the shackles will be off ...