SUDBURY Rugby Club’s player-coach Mark Bolton hopes to depart the club in a blaze of glory — by orchestrating a late charge to gatecrash the top six.
With Suds perched just seven points above the drop zone in London Two North East after five defeats in their last six games, Bolton only has eyes for the top half of the table going into their last nine games.
After revealing he will leave Whittome Field at the end of the season to have a break from the game, the former professional league and union rules player has thrown down the challenge to his players of climbing up the table with a late run.
He said: “The only way I look at it is the teams below us have got to win at least two more games than we do and to be honest I think we will win most of our games now, especially if we play like we have the last two weeks.
“I see no reason why we cannot get in the top six still.”
Sudbury matched joint league-leaders Rochford Hundred on Saturday for large periods of the game before clinical finishing saw them lose 20-8, and the previous week they claimed a bonus point 24-17 defeat against high-flyers Romford & Gidea Park. They will be looking to kickstart a winning run at Old Streetonians, who they beat at home earlier in the season in one of only four wins so far, on Saturday (2.15pm).
Bolton, 33, a Sudbury PE teacher, who previously played for Swinton Lions, Orrell and Manchester, believes he is leaving the club in good health with a host of young talent ready to blossom, including 17-year-olds Sam Bixby and Shaun Smith, who have been taking part in English College’s trials.
“I think they have a brilliant youth section with lots of quality youth players coming through,” said Bolton, who moved to Suffolk to teach in 2007 and has been Sudbury coach for the last three years.
Winger Smith has been cleared by a doctor to take part in a training camp at Warwick University this weekend to whittle down 50 to a 23-man squad after being knocked unconscious playing at the weekend.
Bixby, a six-foot openside flanker who is currently studying to be a carpenter at West Suffolk College, said: “I am quite nervous as it has been a big build-up. But I am happy to represent my country and I have to make it really.”
n SUDBURY Under-17s will be looking to reach the Eastern Counties cup final as they go into their biggest game for 20 years against Colchester in the semi-final at Whittome Field on Sunday.