Errors are punished as the top three pull clear of pack

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LONDON LEAGUE THREE NORTH EAST: Sudbury 19 Old Cooperians 31: Third-placed Old Cooperians opened up a nine-point gap over fourth-placed Sudbury after recording a 31-19victory on Saturday.

Sudbury will need to iron out their mistakes from last weekend when sixth-placd Wanstead visit on Saturday (3pm) if head coach Graham Richards’ aim of a top-six finish is not to be put in danger.

On Saturday, in the first meeting between Old Cooperians and Sudbury this season, both sides put on a good show, providing an entertaining game in which the better side came out victors.

It turned out to be a close encounter with Coopers heading for promotion and Sudbury lying fourth in the league.

Sudbury had the most possession in the first half, but the second period belonged to the visitors.

The hosts kicked off and kept play in the Coopers’ half for the first four minutes until Oli Morgan and Mark Bolton broke for Morgan to score.

Tom Summers added the two extra points for a seven-point lead.

Coopers were having difficulty with the wind and were not finding touch with their kicks, which allowed Sudbury to run at them from deep and keep play in the visitors’ 

It was nearly half an hour before Coopers put together an excellent passage of play and worked the ball from one end of the field to the other, back and forth through many pairs of hands, eventually securing a five-metre scrum.

The ball was moved quickly to the right to be touched down near the posts to level the points at the interval.

The start of the second half was a disaster for Sudbury when Coopers ran the opening kick straight back through the Sudbury defence who were still mentally on the half-time break to score with 30 seconds on the clock.

Sudbury pressure won a penalty scrum and a penalty lineout, but they were unable to get more points on the scoreboard.

A missed tackle gave the visitors their next score against the run of play, but this boosted their confidence.

Shaun Smith scored for Sudbury, again from an initial break by Morgan.

With half an hour played of the second period, Coopers rolled the maul from a lineout inside the 22-metre line to score.

But Sudbury were not finished as Will Levett scored with a fine solo run from inside his own half to put down under the posts.

The home side undid their good work when a pass was intercepted and Coopers ran in unopposed.