WESTCLIFF slipped off the top of the London & SE Premier Division standings after losing 22-19 at Sutton & Epsom.

Westcliff let slip a 19-5 lead and director of rugby Rick Compton was a frustrated figure at the final whistle.

“It was a difficult and disappointing afternoon for us,” said Compton.

“A lot of things conspired against us in the lead up and on the pitch but in the first instance credit must go to Sutton, who sensed and seized their opportunity.

“At 19-5, I felt we were one score from putting them away but they weren’t having any of it and gave us the run around for 10 minutes that won them the game with some aggressive and adventurous rugby.

“We won’t dwell on it though as all teams have days like this.

“There are no great lessons to take from it and if anything it was a case of a game too far for a squad being stretched a little further than we would like.

“The rest week is welcome and needed.”

Sutton began brightly and opened the scoring with an unconverted try after just six minutes.

But Westcliff soon began to cause problems of their own and they applied sustained pressure on the Sutton line before Jack Jones was on hand to score a try he confidently converted to put the visitors 7-5 ahead at half-time.

Westcliff stayed on top at the start of the second half with ‘one yard out try-scoring specialist’ Billy Morrant going over under the posts.

Top try scorer Greg Bannister then also touched down to extend Westcliff’s lead to 19-5.

But, uncharacteristically, Westcliff took their foot off the pedal and around the hour mark with little sign or obvious warning they lost their way and the momentum shifted.

In the spell of a little over 10 minutes the hosts scored three tries, one of which was converted, and the game had been tipped on its head with Sutton now leading 22-19.

Westcliff stopped shipping points but try though they might they failed to force the score that would rescue the game.

Westcliff: Bannister, Brown, Stol, Reynolds, Merrick, Jones, Spivey, Lane, B Morrant, Dellas, Dartnell, Scogings, Maloney, Hatton, Smith

Replacements: Weston, Binstead & H Morrant