Richards praises fighting spirit

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Sudbury’s fighting spirit earned high praise from director of rugby Graham Richards after London League Division Two North East leaders Saffron Walden were beaten 8-5 in an enthralling game at Whittome Field on Saturday, writes Ken Watkins.

The victory, and Diss’ defeat at Norwich, saw Sudbury move back into second place, the promotion play-off spot, one point above Diss, who beat them a week earlier.

The match pitted the best defence in the division, Sudbury, against the best attack, and it was the hosts’ sterling defence in the first 25 minutes of the second half that proved crucial.

“Today, for the first time, I think, since I’ve been here we stood up and we fought to the bitter end because the guys had some desire. After a game last week that ran away from us, where we got bullied, today we didn’t get bullied,” said Richards, who is due to relinquish his position and leave the club at the end of the current season.

“I said to the guys in the end it’s not about the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog.

“To a man, from the 16 guys who played it was tackle, tackle, tackle and we forced them to give penalties away at a crucial stage of the game, in the last 15 minutes, which gave us territorial advantage, and we never lost that.

“We have the best defence in the league. We’re not the best by chance. We are the best because we’ve conceded the least amount of points.

That’s what we had spoken about all week. We had to stop them, and if we got a chance, take it.”

That chance came deep in the second half, with the scores tied at 5-5, and a series of penalties took Sudbury from their own 22 into Walden’s. Tom Summers was on target and Sudbury were in front.

Walden had earlier opted to run a penalty in front of the posts when they had Sudbury under pressure, but the Blues’ defence proved magnificent. “In my opinion that was an error,” said Richards. “At the end of the day it’s about points on the scoreboard.”

Richards praised his forwards, who had been second best in the defeat at Diss a week earlier.

“Today I think we lost one lineout and one of our scrums. We stole four or five of their lineouts. Their set piece let them down today, and ours stood up.

“And the tackle count was huge. We missed the fly half a few times in the first half, which allowed them to get out of jail. But in the second if somebody missed a tackle, there was somebody behind making that tackle.”

Saffron Walden have scored 660 points in 17 games, with Sudbury next best on 495. Sudbury have conceded 194 points, with Diss next best on 262.

n Sudbury Talbots (seconds) ended a five game losing streak in Eastern Counties Greene King Division Two South with a 43-0 win at Felixstowe on Saturday.

Sudbury controlled the game from the start with the first score coming after 10 minutes of play when Jack Datcheler crossed the stripe and Sam Rust converted.

Tries came at regular intervals from Huggins, Rust and two from Floyd to give a lead of 31 points at the break.

Chaplin and Barry added second half tries to leave Sudbury comfortably in fourth place in the league.