TOP of the table Old Halesonians suffered their second defeat of the season when losing 34-19 at Sutton Coldfield who are expected to be one of their main rivals for the National League 3 Midlands title this term.

Hales expected a hard battle and that’s exactly what they got from a physical and well drilled Sutton side - writes Nick Pullen

However, Hales hit problems before the game even kicked off as they lost centre Andy Robinson with a reoccurance of his hamstring injury while warming up.

Added to that, Hales then had to replace second row Rich Sawyer within minutes of the kick-off having sustained a broken finger.

Sutton took the lead with an early penalty but Hales hit back, Loz Breese bagging a try after good work by the pack, which Pete Clifford converted.

From a 7-3 advantage, Hales were put under sustained pressure and finally gave way as Sutton stormed over for three converted tries to lead 24-7 at the break.

Hales attempted to fight back in the second half as full back Chris Hooper snapped up a try which Clifford converted, making it 24-14.

Tom Dempsey was then yellow carded for obstruction and Sutton kicked the resulting penalty to go 27-14.

However, Hales gave themselves a glimmer of hope when a backs move involving Steve Powell, Clifford and Carl Robinson fed winger Luke Smith who set up the chance for opposite wing Joe Oxford to cross for a try.

Clifford hit the upright with his conversion attempt, but at 27-19, Hales were still in with a chance.

Further injuries to scrum half Nathan Jones and centre Pete Clifford hampered their progress and Sutton took advantage with a converted try right on 80 minutes.

Hales team manager Simon Hussey admitted injuries were now becoming a concern and claimed: “We tried to arm wrestle with Sutton in the pack, which was the wrong thing to do and didn’t use our backs enough when we had the chance”.

Hales attempt to bounce back when they host rock bottom side Bedford Athletic, who have lost all eight of their games to date but Hussey warned: “There are no easy games at this level”.

Hales Second XV lost 39-21 to Birmingham Medics while the Thirds beat Kidderminster Seconds 32-22.

Despite tries from George Taylor, Ethan Cooper and James Moore, the Colts lost out to Lichfield.