Sudbury Rugby Club coach Ben Scully toasts home victory - despite dry January efforts!
Ben Scully had good reason to celebrate on Saturday, after Sudbury had beaten Eton Manor 27-20 to open up a 14-point gap over the bottom three in London 1 North, writes Ken Watkins.
But as he navigates a dry January he had to settle for a couple of colas.
Head coach Scully was also toasting a first victory this season over a side above Sudbury in the table, avenging a 31-12 defeat back in September.
“It was a great day,” he reflected, “a really special day. To finally beat a team above us, and to get a five-point win.
“It’s a shame it has taken us this long to beat a team above us, but I knew something was coming, a performance like this was coming. We owed them one. When we played down at theirs we didn’t get off the bus properly and were our own worst enemy.”
Eton Manor’s three tries resulted from Sudbury errors, and early in the second half the Blues trailed 20-7. “But we never panicked,” said Scully. “We stayed cool, we made good decisions, and the last half-hour was all us. It was all about believing in ourselves.
“What was most pleasing was that we grew in stature and confidence. We got to set pieces and we knew we would win a good set piece. In the second half we carried well. We knew we would make the gain line, we knew we would recycle, we knew we would carry well.
“Hopefully that shows the boys we can have real confidence and belief that we deserve to be here (Division 1 North) and can go on and mix it with other teams. I’m unbelievably proud of the boys.”
Scully also paid tribute to the large crowd of supporters. “There was a fantastic atmosphere from the club. The noise from the sideline was fantastic. That certainly spurred on the boys, and I think that helped them.”
After two wins on the bounce Sudbury face a tough test on Saturday when they travel to unbeaten leaders Rochford Hundred – 17 wins from 17, and five points per game.
“It will be tough,” said Scully, “but we’ll be looking for a good performance.”
MATCH REPORT (by Don Reekie):
A 27-20 bonus point win at home was a confidence booster for Sudbury who had been beaten by Eton Manor earlier in the season.
That day Sudbury felt they had been beaten by the unfamiliar plastic pitch and not by the rugby, and their confidence in their abilities was to prove right.
This was one of the most exciting games seen at Whittome Field this season and in the second half the crowd got behind Sudbury and spurred them on to a well-deserved victory.
A penalty for offside gave Eton Manor a three point lead after three minutes of play.
The visitors’ pack was much heavier than Sudbury but in the set pieces the Blues held their own and on the first Sudbury put in, in the centre of the park, Tom Summers broke, supported by Jonny Taylor ,who crossed the stripe wide on the left.
Sudbury missed another chance to score when Harry Watkins was taken into a touch after a good break soon after.
Eton Manor used their weight to attack from close range and a yellow card for Sudbury allowed the visitors to bundle over from close range.
Sudbury was making the most of the lineouts and with ball in hand always made progress and had several good attacking moves. But a second yellow card in their own 22 metre area allowed Manor to kick for touch and roll the maul once again to score.
But it was Eton Manor who were to lose a man permanently to a red card just before half-time with the score 15-7 in their favour.
The second half started well for the visitors as their forwards punched through the defence again from close range with less than two minutes played.
Sudbury bounced back from this by keeping the ball moving through the hands and Taylor got a second try after a good passage of play.
The hosts began getting on top and Summers scored and converted his own try after a period of pressure.
A Summers 40-metre penalty gave Sudbury the lead with 10 minutes left.
The bonus point try came just before full-time when Paul Chaplin made a dash for the line. And Eton Manor saw yellow turn to red when the player verbally abused the referee.
* Halstead Templars forfeited their Suffolk Chadacre Cup quarter-final at Clacton on Saturday due to injuries to front row players.