London League Division Two North East takes a two-week break, but Sudbury’s players will be training over the Christmas period, ready to resume action in what could prove a season-defining game.
Wanstead, currently second in the table, and six points above third-placed Sudbury, are the visitors to Whittome Field on January 6, for a match Sudbury head coach Ben Scully says is ‘crucial for both teams for the rest of their season’.
While Sudbury were scoring eight tries in their 53-19 victory at Ipswich on Saturday, to complete a league double, having won the home fixture 93-0, Wanstead beat Epping Upper Clapton 36-10.
Rochford Hundred look hot favourites to take the automatic promotion spot in the division, with Sudbury and Wanstead battling for second place and the promotion play-off. Sudbury have a vastly better points difference, 400 to Wanstead’s 228.
But for Sudbury the Wanstead fixture is very much a must-win game if they are to keep within touching distance of their rivals.
“It’s the big one,” said Scully. “It’s unfortunate that it’s Wanstead straight after Christmas. It would be nice to get a game under our belt to get back into our rhythm. But we come in off the back of our good win at Ipswich.”
Sudbury trained last night, and will train again on Wednesday next week before normal training resumes in January.
“It’s important to let the boys rest and enjoy themselves. Adam Prescott (conditioning coach) has got some festive ideas to keep them ticking over,” said Scully.
“One thing we pride ourselves on is our conditioning, and you have to put a bit of graft in.”
Scully was pleased with his side’s positive reaction against Ipswich, following the disappointing defeat at Epping Upper Clapton a week earlier.
“We didn’t want to lose, but it sharpens our minds and brings us back down to reality. The boys reacted to that defeat very well,” he said.
Ipswich, who spent much of the first period inside their own half, enjoyed a spell of pressure at the start of the second half, though Scully never felt his side were really under threat.
“We never looked in trouble,” said Scully. “We let them score a couple in the first half, and they were crunching our 22 for a little while in the second, but I thought we were always in control and could get ourselves out of it.
“When we had our chances to attack I thought we were extremely clinical, and we made them pay the price for being inaccurate themselves.
“Our forwards are fantastic, and they are coming on in leaps and bounds in terms of their skills and what they can do, but our backs are incredibly dangerous as well.
“Conditions underfoot suited us. The forwards gave us a very good platform to exploit them, and we are linking between the forwards and backs better all the time.”
His one criticism? “Too many penalties, which is something we’ve got to look at. Perhaps we are not reacting to referees’ interpretations quick enough. But after a tough week and a bit of soul searching, to get another 50 points on the road is very pleasing.”