SUFFOLK CUP SEMI-FINAL: Woodbridge 19 Sudbury 21
An understrength Sudbury side made hard work of lower-league opposition as they narrowly secured their place in the Suffolk Cup final.
The home side started strongly and were soon ahead as a well-won lineout following a surging run from Josh Bruce resulted in Jono Cooke crashing over.
The try was converted to give Woodbridge a 7-0 advantage.
Rattled by the early pressure, Sudbury responded looked to get back into the game with winger Shaun Smith being halted on numerous occasions by stout defending from the home side.
However, there was nothing Woodbridge could do after 25 minutes of play as a succession of penalties saw the visitors gradually progress down the pitch with an attacking lineout and flowing move giving Smith the chance to score, converted by Ben Reece to level the scores.
Woodbridge responded immediately and capitalised on some indecisive Sudbury defending as Tom Stokes turned over a free-kick to score under the posts, before the hosts extended their advantage as another lineout resulted in Ben Cope scoring, again converted, to see Woodbridge take a 19-7 lead into the interval.
Sudbury turned up the heat in the second half and in a well-worked simple move got the ball wide to Smith at pace to score to reduce the deficit.
The game continued to focus around long kicks which sometimes bore fruit in the wind, giving both teams attacking platforms and testing defences and tempers as both side lost men to the sinbin.
A resulting period of strong pressure then saw Bart Minter put Sudbury ahead for the first time in the match with 10 minutes remaining as the visitors superior weight and height began to prove pivotal in the contest.
Woodbridge were gifted one last opportunity to snatch the win but couldn’t capitalise as a 40-metre kick was sent wide of the posts as Sudbury secured victory and progression to the final where they will face either Mersea Island or Ipswich YM on Saturday, March 29.