OLD Halesonians produced some of their best rugby of the season but it was not enough to prevent them falling to a 22-18 defeat at Sutton Coldfield.

The Wassell Grove outfit seemed to have pulled off a memorable comeback only to lose the game right at the death.

Hales travelled to Walmley Road with 12 first team squad members unavailable due to an injury crisis and named four debutants in the starting line-up.

Sutton began the game at a blistering pace, forcing four penalty opportunities inside the first 10 minutes alone. Things were made harder for Hales when prop Steven Head was sin-binned for persistent offences.

Thankfully for Hales, Sutton kicker and league top points scorer Dave Edwards was having an ineffectual day with the boot, converting just one of these chances. But the inevitable try for the home side arrived after 15 minutes, when an overlap allowed Sutton centre Alex Wright to score an easy touchdown.

Edwards missed the kick, but just minutes later repaid his error by setting up his side’s second try for Steve McGarrett, Edwards converting to put Sutton 15-0 up.

Hales eventually began to wrestle some possession from the home side’s larger pack and ended the first half playing the better rugby, scoring a try when Richard Taylor crashed over after an excellent rolling maul.

Hales were unlucky not to score a second on the stroke of half-time following a period of sustained pressure inside the Sutton 22. To add insult to injury, Hales captain Chris Wagstaff was sin-binned for a retaliatory punch.

Despite playing the first 10 minutes of the second half with 14 men, Hales were more than dominant and claimed a brace of tries from Smith in the 55th and 63rd minutes.

Both kicks were missed, meaning the game was tied at 15-15, with 17 minutes remaining.

It looked like Hales had pulled off a memorable comeback when Seb Rose step sent over a penalty to give them the lead.

But their hearts were shattered in injury time when, from a scrum on their own five metre line, the home side somehow broke to snatch victory as White went over.