Eton Manor 32 Sudbury 31
Relegation-threatened Sudbury travelled to East London on Saturday to play mid-table Eton Manor and gave one of their best performances of the season.
But for two lapses in concentration they would have claimed the victory they desperately needed, but were rewarded with two bonus points.
Eton Manor controlled the first half hour of the match with their big strong pack calling the shots.
It was like watching men against boys, but things changed when they visibly slowed, either because they thought they had the game won or, because they ran out of steam.
Sudbury kept up their relentless pace and a highly entertaining game developed.
Early set pieces went to the home side and they took an early lead with two penalties and then a try from a five metre line-out and rolling maul to cross the line after 20 minutes.
Manor tried this tactic again soon after but this time Sudbury were wise to it. But then their concentration dipped and missed tackles let the winger run through the defence for a 20 point lead.
The visitor’s fortunes changed when Jake Thurlow scored.
The ball was thrown beyond the lineout midway in the home half and he spotted the gap and ran through to score behind the posts, withCris Lewis kicking the extras.
The second period was a much closer encounter.
Lewis reduced the deficit with a penalty and Henry Cowling made a good break but was felled by an illegal move, resulting in a yellow card for the home side and three more points for Lewis.
But Sudbury then gave away a kickable penalty which Manor converted.
Jonny Taylor scored for Ben Scully’s side after a period of pressure in the home 22, but Eton Manor replied with a try of their own from a scrum in the 22 with their winger nipping in down the blindside.
Sudbury worked hard to get up to the try line, and after several phases Pete Dedross crossed the line.
The Suffolk side then let their concentration slip again when the Manor full-back took the ball behind the attacking line and ran first one way and then the other, round the side of everybody who just seemed to stand and watch as he made his way to the line with about 10 minutes to go.
Sudbury opted for a scrum in the Manor half in the last few minutes and quick hands put Tom Summers clear to score and leave them one point adrift.
Mindful of the time, Manor were able to hold on to the ball long enough to ensure the win.