With well over 400 points to their name in just 6 games so far this season, with no team really coming in touching distance, Sutton & Epsom will have been confident going into this game. However, Streatham’s defensive record is becoming notorious and the ladies were determined to ensure that their visit to Frant Road was memorable. With the so-called ‘Streatham-Croydon Ultra Men’ banging the supporters drum, and a great crowd of supporters down, it was always going to be a good match.
The first 20 minutes demonstrated exactly why Streatham have managed to establish their defensive reputation. Whilst camped in their own 22, Sutton & Epsom were unable to break the claret wall to get over the line. With Streatham’s scrum holding firm, a good clearance by the strong boot of full back Ana O’Connor took Streatham up the pitch and after a turnover in the middle of the field by fly half Millie Ross, Sutton’s ill-discipline eventually saw them concede a penalty in their own 22. Demonstrating good game management, Streatham took the decision to use the boot of converted footballer Jenny Frost to go for the sticks, getting them the first points of the game and bringing the score to 3-0.
Sutton were playing a strength game with confident carries and eventually Streatham were found defensively short out wide and Sutton managed to score in the corner through their fly half, which they were unable to convert. The same pattern was repeated, with Streatham scoring another penalty, and Sutton another unconverted try before the half, bringing the half time score to 6-10 to Sutton & Epsom.
Streatham were playing a dominant territory game, which was serving them well in keeping Sutton away from the red zone. However, unused to teams being so close at half time S&E continued to surge forward through heavy carries and route 1 rugby, eventually scoring a converted try early in the second half. Streatham were not going to go down without a fight, and soon responded in kind. Further ill-discipline from Sutton saw Streatham progress down pitch, and replacement prop Ellie Wright was deemed turned over inches from the try line. However, it was taken back over the line by the visitors so it was a home scrum 5m from the try line. A valiant pick and go from number 8 Mel Laidlaw-Anderson was stopped one metre out, but quick reactions from scrum half Dani Reynolds saw the ball go through the hands of inside centre Jenny Frost to outside centre Phili May who spun through the tackle to score, bringing the score to 11-17.
Sutton came firing back and managed to score another of their own, which was converted. But Streatham were still not done. After another surge from Sutton down the middle of the pitch, ever present flanker Helena Solomon forced the knock on in the tackle. Quick reactions from the fly half spotted the overlap and the ball was quickly shipped to winger Amy Allen through the hands of Jenny Frost. Brushing off the tackle, she sped down the wing to outstrip the defence and go in under the posts. The conversion was unfortunately charged down, but Streatham were still within touching distance at 16-24.
Streatham had put in a huge defensive shift, and unfortunately tired tackles were slipping high, giving away penalties that gave the momentum to the visitors. The defence eventually began to leave gaps, which Sutton were able to exploit, scoring their bonus point try in the final play of the game. The team will be disappointed to have allowed Sutton their 7th bonus point victory this season but demonstrated incredible grit and determination to get the losing bonus point against a team that has been outstripping the competition this season. With their next league game against Hackney at home, who they lost to on the road earlier in the season, they will be looking to replicate this performance to boost their league standing which is currently third.
Next week (Sunday 2nd December) the development XV travel to Medway to play their development team.
Forward of the match: Rosie Carr
Updated 16:14 - 26 Nov 2018 by Millie Ross
Back of the match: Phili May
Scorers: Jenny Frost (2P), Phili May (1T), Amy Allen (1T)