DIVISION ONE NORTH
Old Priorians 32
Sudbury’s new year bid to get off the bottom stalled at the first hurdle on Saturday, when they were beaten 32-15 by fellow strugglers Old Priorians in a result that leaves the club 11 points from safety.
Their slender hopes of playing at the same level next season now rest on the next two games, at home to Chelmsford on Saturday (3pm), and then at Barking a week later — those sides currently 10 and three points ahead of them.
Head coach Ben Scully, who saw his side concede three soft tries in the first half to go into the interval 24-7 behind, described the result as a ‘massively missed opportunity to get off the bottom for the first time this season’.
He continued: “I’m always very positive and I always try to look on the bright side, but this was a massive disappointment.
“We spoke about certain things we wanted to do in training this week, and Priorians didn’t surprise us. They did what we expected.
“I don’t know if it was Christmas cobwebs, or the occasion and the pressure getting to the boys. As a coach it’s hard to put my finger on it.
“Sometimes you need the hurt of these defeats to teach you lessons, to help build for the future.
“It’s a bit quiet in the dressing room, but I think we need that today.
“That’s the pain they’ll remember the next time they need to dig deep. Let’s see if that brings a performance next time.”
Scully had emphasised to his players the importance of the first three matches in January, declaring Old Priorians as a ‘must-win’ fixture.
“I thought we were lucky with the fixtures,” he said, “Chelmsford (have) just one win in the last three months, and Barking haven’t won a game since October 8. But then Priorians had a similar record coming in. So we can’t take anything for granted.”
Sudbury started well, but failed to take advantage, and poor tackling saw the visitors score three first-half tries with Harry Maile’s try, sandwhiched between a sloppy penalty against and the referee’s interval whistle, at least giving them some hope.
“Having had a lot of pressure, and then to concede was frustrating, and then we just switched off for the next two,” said Scully.
“We’ve got this habit of doing something brilliant and then following it up with doing something pretty average.
“We let them score, and from the kick-off they take the ball and immediately score again. We compound the error and we have to stop doing that.
“It comes down to experience and learning what to do in certain situations, and I’ve just got to keep painting those pictures in training and hope we learn the lessons eventually.”
A Jake Thurlow try in the second half, coming after a Lewis’ penalty, proved to be no more than a consolation as Sudbury were made to pay the price for a high penalty count and some poor tackling.