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Blues bid to tighten grip on play-off spot

Sudbury’s hard-earned 22-7 victory over bottom-of-the-table Old Cooperians was, in head coach Ben Scully’s view, just the wake-up call the team needed before Saturday’s crucial game at Norwich, writes Ken Watkins.

The victory, coupled with Wanstead’s 38-0 defeat at London League Division 2NE leaders Rochford Hundred, saw Sudbury move up into second place, three points above Wanstead. Norwich, who won 54-10 at Epping Upper Clapton, are six points behind Sudbury.

“It will be a dogfight up at Norwich,” said Scully. “We know we will have to go out and dig deep up there. The Cooperians game was something of a preparation for the big one, and I don’t think motivation will be an issue.”

Rochford, who have won all 15 of their opening games, and picked up a try-bonus point in each one, are 12 points clear at the top, and virtually nailed on for promotion. Second place, earning a promotion play-off with the runners-up in Division 2NW, is between Sudbury, Wanstead and Norwich, the Norfolk side being 15 points ahead of fifth-placed Harlow.

Scully had hoped for a five-point win against Cooperians, who were beaten 50-7 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season. “We knew they would come back stronger.

“We wanted, and expected to win, but we had to work hard for it.

“At the start of the day we said the win is what we needed. Wanstead didn’t pick up any bonus points, we’re up to second, and that’s where we wanted to be.

“Not the bonus point we hoped for, but we got the win.”

Conditions on Saturday, rain and wind, were, Scully said: “Obviously a leveller and it took us a bit of time to adapt. We tried to play dry-weather rugby in wet-weather conditions. We played some good rugby in patches, but we just have to learn to adjust our game slightly for the conditions.”

Sudbury will now look at the video of their 22-15 victory over Norwich back in October. “It’s a snapshot of the opposition on one day,” said Scully. “We’ve progressed since then, they’ve progressed, but the film may give us some ideas.

“I’m a believer in staying true to what makes you great, so we’ve got to keep working on the things that make us what we are, and which have put us in second. I love the ambition of the boys, so let’s keep that going.”

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