Odds stacked against Suds in bid to survive

HEAVE-HO: Sudbury will need to push their way over the safety line of another 10 points from their final six games, according to coach Graham Richards
HEAVE-HO: Sudbury will need to push their way over the safety line of another 10 points from their final six games, according to coach Graham Richards

Sudbury rugby coach Graham Richards is “preparing for the worst” as his side face an uphill task to avoid slipping into the Eastern Counties league.

After Saturday’s 20-3 defeat at mid-table Beccles, coupled with Canvey Island’s win at Wisbech, Sudbury find themselves just two points above the third relegation spot.

And with Richards struggling just to get 15 players out over the next few weeks and his travel sick side only playing two of their six remaining games on home soil, he admits it will be tough.

“I think we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said, with a list of unavailable players for their arranged fixture at mid-table Old Brentwoods on Saturday (2.15pm) including influential trio Richard Lorking, Mark Bolton and Jon Coone.

“We are down there and we need two more wins and I think 10 more points will secure us ok,” he said. “With a full team available we can beat any team in the league and we have proved that with some narrow losses, and Norwich (March 9) and Harlow (April 6) have got to come to us.”

The head coach’s hopes of having a rising star for the run-in were dealt a blow late last week when he was drafted into the Northampton Saints’ Under-18s side.

The 17 year old, who he is not willing to name at this stage, has signed registration forms with Suds but Richards admits to not knowing if or when he will be available to play with other rugby commitments.

News that Ben Reece’s knee ligament injury has flared up again and player/coach Coone faces a three-match ban, subject to an RFU discplinary hearing, for violent conduct after being sent off along with Beccles’ player/coach Keith Rix, has only added to his selection headache.

Winger Shaun Smith is also unavailable for Saturday in what the players thought would be a free weekend, before the snow played havoc with the fixture list.

With four games in which to look for vital points away from home, Richards has declared the game a week Saturday at second-bottom Wisbech as one they must take something from.

“We have to go up to Wisbech and get a result and pick up what we can on Saturday,” he said.

Reflecting on the Beccles defeat, played on a very boggy pitch not conducive to Suds’ backs-driven game, he said it was another game in which they were ‘bullied’ out of it.