Late penalty checks leaders
Sudbury retained their undefeated London Three North East record at Harlow on Saturday, the home side scoring a last-minute penalty to claim a 10-10 draw.
Sudbury travelled to Harlow having prepared for a tough game, and that is exactly what they got. Harlow are always a difficult team to beat at home, but the unbeaten tag Sudbury carry gives teams that added incentive to give that little bit extra.
Sudbury kicked off up the hill, and immediately took play onto the Harlow 22. With two minutes played the home side were caught offside and Chris Lewis opted to kick for a 3-0 lead.
Harlow kicked deep at the restart and held Sudbury in their own 22 by throwing all their efforts at the try line, but the Sudbury defence held firm, leaving the home side with nothing to show for their efforts.
Matt Johnston made a good solo run to move play into the Harlow 22 after 15 minutes, and was rewarded with a penalty. But the kick went wide.
Harlow then kicked deep down the hill to pressurise Sudbury once again. Twenty six minutes in and Sudbury had to defend a five-metre scrum, but from the second phase the Harlow forwards scored to make it 7-3 at the interval.
Harlow surprised Sudbury at the start of the second half by starting at pace up the hill, but handling errors spoilt any scoring moves.
Eventually through good set piece play Sudbury got back into the Harlow red zone and crossed the home line twice from five-metre scrums, but they were unable to touch down on both occasions.
But patience paid off, and from a penalty lineout on the five-metre line Sam Conning touched down on second phase ball. Chris Lewis added the extras for a three-point lead with 10 minutes left to play.
Both teams put in a big effort in the last period, but both showed solid defence. In the final minute Sudbury were penalised within kicking distance, and Harlow opted to kick to secure the draw.
n Former Sudbury player Austin Beckett, now at Cambridge, is in the Eastern Counties squad for their RFU National Under-20s Championship quarter-final against Northumberland at Cambridge on Sunday (2pm). Eastern Counties under-17s will be playing Yorkshire at the same venue (11.30am).