MATCH REPORT: Sudbury secure back-to-back promotions

UTTER ELATION: Sudbury RFC players celebrate their promotion after the final whistle following a 22-18 play-off victory over Hammersmith and Fulham
UTTER ELATION: Sudbury RFC players celebrate their promotion after the final whistle following a 22-18 play-off victory over Hammersmith and Fulham

LONDON LEAGUE
DIVISION TWO NORTH EAST/NORTH WEST

PLAY-OFF FINAL

FITTING FAREWELL: Sudbury head coach Graham Richards is embraced by the players after guiding the club to a second straight promotion in his final game in charge

FITTING FAREWELL: Sudbury head coach Graham Richards is embraced by the players after guiding the club to a second straight promotion in his final game in charge

Sudbury RFC 22

Hammersmith & Fulham 18

Sudbury RFC match winner Harry Maile was left almost speechless after his dramatic late try sealed his side’s promotion.

With his side trailing 18-17 inside the final 10 minutes of what was a pulsating and finely poised affair, the diminutive winger set off on a lung-busting 60-yard run, chasing down a long punt forward to outpace his opponent and touch down what proved to be the decisive score.

And having sealed Sudbury’s second successive promotion, the youngster, starring in his first full-year in the senior squad, was almost lost for words after the final whistle.

“It’s just an unreal feeling I don’t know quite what else I can say,” said an overwhelmed Maile, who pulled his hamstring and was forced off injured following his dramatic late try.

“I saw the ball go over the top and just thought I had to go for it, I can’t believe I got there, it’s just all unreal to me.

“This is my first season in the first team so this is really special, it is an experience I’ll never forget.”

After a period of prolonged pressure, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock as Sudbury were punished for an offside infringement with James Gallo duly slotting the penalty between the posts for a 3-0 lead.

However, the home side responded well to the setback and found themselves in front after 11 minutes as a flowing move from right-to-left saw Tom Summers off-load to Maile to beat the last defender and score in the left corner. Summers’ conversion attempt sailed wide of the left upright to leave Sudbury with a two point advantage.

And after a scrappy 30-minute period in which the team’s cancelled one another out in the middle of the field, Sudbury extended their advantage with another well worked try moments before the interval.

Again it was Summers acting as the creator, breaking through the visitor’s defensive line before feeding Ethan Wright to crash over between the posts. Summers stepped up to slot the simple conversion over the see the home side hold a 12-3 lead.

However, it was not one they hold into the interval as a lapse in concentration allowed Hammersmith and Fulham to hit back immediately with Stu Adams breaking through two tackles to score on the left side. Gallo fell narrowly short with the extras as the home side took a four-point advantage into the break.

Despite the setback, it was Sudbury who came out firing after the interval and added another try just three minutes into the second-half as a swift move down the left flank saw Henry Cowling beat two attempted challenges to go over the line. Summers again sent the difficult conversion narrowly wide to leave the score at 17-8.

However, the visitors refused to lay down and rallied to regain control of the match with another prolonged period of pressure resulting in James Lo finding a pocket of space in Sudbury’s defensive line to bundle over. Gallo made light woerk of the conversion to cut the deficit to just two points.

And with momentum firmly behind them, the London-based outfit seized the initiative, causing Sudbury to make silly mistakes resulting in penalty opportunities.

Gallo surprisingly spurned one such seemingly simple opportunity, slicing an effort wide of the posts after 58 minutes, but he was to make amends just three minutes later, punishing another Sudbury infringement at a ruck to send his second effort between the posts and gift his side an 18-17 lead.

The home crowd did their utmost to lift Sudbury and their efforts were rewarded with less than 10 minutes to go with a moment of magic from Maile.

A long punt was sent forward from the back and despite having 10 yards to make up on the opposition players racing backwards, the winger found the energy to race 60-yards down field, leaving the opposition is his wake to touch down behind the line and gift Sudbury the lead once again.

Summers was agin unlucky with the difficult kick as the hosts held a four-point advantage with a little over seven minutes remaining.

And despite a late period of pressure, Maile’s heroics were to prove the defining moment as Sudbury held firm to confirm their second successive promotion and spark wild celebrations on and off the field.

The players and head coach Graham Richards, in his final game in charge of the team, left the field to rapturous applause from the large crowd at Whittham Field.