Sudbury’s home London Three North East derby reunion with Stowmarket on Saturday (3pm) will rekindle memories at Whittome Field.
Stowmarket, relegated at the end of last season, last played at Sudbury on December 17, 2011 — the game was the final appearance by Sudbury prop Josh Rix who sadly and tragically died the following month at the age of 23.
“It was the first game I came to watch before coming here,” said Sudbury director of rugby Graham Richards. “I came to assess the situation before making a decision.
“Matt Johnson scored three tries, all in the second half, and it was also the game Burger (Alex Pears) broke his ankle.”
Sudbury did the double over Stowmarket that season, but Stowmarket clinched promotion and spent the next two seasons in London Two North East.
On Saturday, while Sudbury were becoming the first visiting team for more than a year to win at West Norfolk, with a 16-13 season-opening victory, Stowmarket laid down a marker by running in 14 tries at home as they demolished Old Brentwoods 92-15.
“When I asked the guys, what’s important about the Stowmarket game, most of them didn’t know that it was Josh’s last game,” said Richards. “But the team is so very different to what it was then, so that’s understandable.”
Richards will have to make one change from Saturday’s winning squad, as Justin Burton is unavailable, but Toby White is due to return.
Victory for Sudbury on Saturday was hard-earned, but Richards stressed the positives and is confident his players will improve as the season progresses,
“I think when we played we showed how good we are, how good we can be,” he said. “When our backs were against the wall and we needed to defend, we did, and made them work hard for their points.”
Other than a penalty, West Norfolk failed to breakthrough when Sudbury were a man down to a yellow card at the end of the first half.
“We scored a couple of good tries, and created another three or four opportunities, and perhaps we should have scored more,” he said. “But we were a little bit impulsive and lacked patience.
“We can get better. Dick (Sumner) and I are in agreement what’s wrong, and we can work on it.
“We’ve got the boys here who want to get better.”