Suttonians’ Centre, Joe Kelly In Full Flight at Energia Park
Suttonians travelled to Energia Park in Donnybrook on Saturday last to tackle league leaders Bective Rangers in what turned out to be a thrilling 80 minutes. The hosts were hoping to wrap up the league with a win if other results went their way and while they eventually won on the day they were made to work very hard for it.
A beautiful day for rugby, albeit on the 4G surface saw the visitors playing with the wind slightly in their favour and they started brightly but had nothing to show for it when Bective struck for the first try of the game. Back came Suttonians to take the lead with 2 penalties from Jack Ussher but then disaster struck with Captain Brian Digan seeing yellow and Prop Conor Kelly seeing red (somewhat harshly) in quick succession.
Bective tagged on a penalty of their own for an 8-6 lead and as the half came to a close they were camped on the Suttonians line, Unusually the Sutton scrum was under pressure from the heavier Bective pack and after a number of infringements at scrum time, many of them questionable given the angle of scrummaging of the hosts, the referee awarded a penalty try to see the hosts enter the break with a 15-6 lead.
Game over thought much of the crowd but Suttonians had other ideas. To borrow a boxing analogy, they came out swinging, throwing the ball about with great abandon. A knee injury to full back Tadgh Cleary had forced a reshuffle in the backline but it seemed to energise the Sutton team. Joe and Darragh Kelly were both excellent in the centre, debutant Shane Patterson had a wonderful outing on the wing before moving to centre and the Bective defence just couldn’t deal with the fleet-footed Darragh Henry. The game swung this way and that, tries for Andrew Ussher, Jack Walters and Patterson along with a penalty try saw the scored locked at 32 each with minutes to go.
But disaster struck, Bective got through a tiring defence in the middle of the park and despite an excellent try saving tackle from Henry, they crossed a couple of phases later and tagged on the conversion for a 39-32 win that was scarcely deserved, even the most ardent Bective supporters agreeing that the draw would have been a fair result.
It had been a great game of rugby for the neutral though and a great team effort from the visitors particularly as the bench was badly needed once the 4G pitch began to take it’s toll. Stand-in captain Brian Digan had an excellent afternoon at his father’s home club. Tom Culleton was a willing workhorse throughout. Cian Buckley and Conor Stokes were especially impactful off the bench and when you consider the end of the match was played with just 13 men as by that stage Suttonians had no option but to opt for uncontested scrums following injuries to the starting and replacement front row it was quite the squad effort.
Earlier that afternoon the 2nd team had gone down to a strong Bective side but had played some great rugby in compiling 4 tries of their own, the pick of them an excellent effort from scrum half Rob Hennessy.
Focus now turns to the quarter final of the Metropoilitan Cup against NUI Barnhall in Sutton at 3pm this Sunday 26th with the final home league game of the season against Gorey the following Saturday, 4th of March
The women’s team have been on a couple of weeks off but they return to action at 5pm on the 4th when the host Wicklow at Station Road.