Sudbury have opened up a five-point gap ahead of their play-off rivals after a hard fought home win against Cantabrigian on Saturday.
Graham Richards’ side now have some breathing space between them and third-place Diss, who surprisingly slipped up away to Romford & Gidea Park (25-22).
With three games to go, it leaves Sudbury’s play-off hopes in their own hands, with relegated Campion at home next, following the Easter break.
A superb individual try by Harry Maile and a penalty try separated the teams at the break, but the home side had some nervy moments when Cantabs pulled a try back before a late converted penalty set up a grandstand finish.
Sudbury were put under pressure in the first few minutes when a kick to touch moved the game into the Sudbury 22, but they were able to hold their line which resulted in an early scrum. With a strong front row Cantabs hoped to capitalise, and although they won the scrum Sudbury eventually won back possession and their backs spread the ball to Maile, who sprinted from his own 22 to score in the first 10 minutes.
The Cantabs were enjoying territorial advantage but Sudbury were able to make some penetrating breaks. Frazer Beckett and Chris Whybrow combined to gain territory in the visitors’ 22 which resulted in a penalty that Tom Summers converted.
Cantabs got off the mark when Denham kicked over a penalty after the Sudbury defence was caught offside.
Sudbury were awarded a crucial penalty try when Shaun Smith broke down the right only to be taken out by a high tackle before the five metre line.
At the start of the second half, Francois Botha replaced Sam Conning in the front row while Will Ponty replaced Dan Taylor.
On 55 minutes Cantabs lost a man to the bin for a shoulder charge but Richards’ men failed to capitalise.
Sudbury were competing well at the lineout but were still only surviving at the scrums with Henry Cowling doing a good job by picking the ball out of the back of the scrum.
The penalty count was high from both teams due to the competition at the breakdowns and Cantabs scored from a penalty lineout.
They closed the gap to five points when a rolling maul trundled over the line in the right corner for a converted try.
The stiff breeze had prevented Sudbury clearing their lines in the second half and Cantabs pressurised Sudbury for the last quarter of the game.
However, the Sudbury defence was again superb but a penalty in the final few minutes brought Cantabs to within two points.
Strangely Cantabs turned down the opportunity to kick a further penalty which, had they been successful, would have given them the win. But Sudbury hung on for another vital win in their quest for promotion.
n Sudbury II conjured up a one point win at Mistley (26-25) when Ewan Floyd went over the line in the dying seconds.
A comfortable 14-3 half-time lead was squandered with Sudbury conceding four tries to give Mistley the lead with four minutes remaining.
But the visitors never stopped running and they eventually found a way through with Floyd scoring in the corner to save the game.
The Seconds travel to Stowmarket in two weeks’ time for their final game of the 2015-16 season.