Sudbury rugby coach Ben Scully says big home victory over Southend Saxons gives them a great platform to go on and secure survival
Sudbury took a big step towards guaranteeing their London League 1 North status with Saturday’s 55-14 victory over Southend Saxons. But with both Ruislip and Fullerians, the teams immediately below them, also winning, the division’s relegation issue is far from settled.
Three teams go down, and with five games left, Sudbury now cannot be caught by basement side Diss, or bottom but one Luton. And Sudbury’s destiny is in their own hands, with three games against sides below them, a visit to Diss, and both Ruislip and Fullerians having to come to Whittome Field.
Sudbury, who lie 10th, have 42 points and a points difference of -114. Ruislip are on 37 (-427) and Fullerians on 27 (-357). One more five-point victory may prove enough, two would guarantee safety.
Saturday’s victory, said head coach Ben Scully, “gives us a great deal of confidence going into a run of important games. The trick now is consistency of selection, so we have to look after the boys and make sure they are available.”
Frazer Beckett, out since the opening day of the season with a fractured wrist, and Alex Zahid, previously unavailable, both made welcome returns from the bench in the second half on Saturday. “It’s good to have them back,” said Scully. “That adds strength in depth.”
Scully confessed his surprise at the margin of victory over ninth-placed Southend.
“I didn’t think the score would be that big, although I had a good feeling about today,” he said.
“A few things went our way at times, but we had the presence of mind to make the most of them. I thought we had a win in us.
“This week we prepared extremely well. It wasn’t just the result or the scoreline. It was how it happened. I thought the first 10 minutes were fantastic. We put our attacking strategy into play immediately and just blew them off the park. Probably lost that foothold at the back end of the first half, but we stayed in the fight, and kept them out.”
He added: “In the second half I think we were just tactically much smarter. We knew what we wanted to do, we executed well, showed confidence and that all culminated in a great scoreline.”
Sudbury travel to fouth-placed HAC on Saturday, which Scully acknowledges will be a tough game.
“The trick is not to get overawed by the occasion. If we can put together some passages of play like we did today I think we can do well,” he said.
* Sudbury under-15s’ run in the RFU National Girls Cup came to an end in the regional final at Eton Manor on Sunday when they were beaten 45-17 by Aylesford Bulls.
Laura Hainey, Sudbury Girls’ head coach and manager, although disappointed with the result, was proud of the team’s achievement.
“Playing against a good quality side has highlighted some areas to work on going forward,” she said, “but we mustn’t forget what a quality side the under-15s have become this season.
“It’s a fantastic achievement to have reached the Area 3 Cup Final, which ranks them in the top 12 under-15 girls teams in England.”
In windy conditions the Bulls took a lead they were never to relinquish, as they pulled Sudbury into contact in midfield and stopped the Blues playing their normal open game.
In the second half Sudbury forced several handling errors, but were unable to capitalise on them. Aylesford made the most of their chances when Sudbury were guilty of turnovers and penalised for not releasing at the breakdown.