THREE NORTH EAST
Cantabrigian 28 Sudbury 34
Victory from one of their most important games in recent years leaves Sudbury just requiring one win from three now to secure the title.
The highly-anticipated top-of-the-table clash was hard fought and tense for the spectators with Cantabs’ forwards winning the battle of the scrums but the Sudbury backs out-running the home side.
The key to the game was the defence Sudbury displayed, which snuffed out any meaningful attacks the home side mounted.
Cantabs realized this early in the game and took the option to kick at goal at every opportunity to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
The Suffolk visitors began the game pinned in their own 22 metre area, but their defence held firm and eventually Dan Cracknell pounced on a loose ball and Sudbury ran out of danger.
Ten minutes in Sudbury crossed the Cantabs line only to be penalized to deny them the points.
When Cantabs tried to bring their backs into play they were caught in possession and the visitors started to play in the opposition half.
Sudbury got deep into the half with a penalty lineout but were again penalized in the act of scoring.
The first score of the game came from a lineout in the Sudbury 22, the catch and drive saw Cantabs touch down with 20 minutes played.
Sudbury rallied immediately and secured the ball at the lineout and passed across the field for Matt Johnston to score on the opposite wing with Chris Lewis converting to level the scores.
But Graham Richard’s side were penalized for going over the top at the restart and Cantabs opted to kick to regain the lead.
After half an hour, the Sudbury backs regained possession at the breakdown and Frazer Beckett made the initial break from the half-way line to hand on to brother Austin to finish the move, Lewis again added the extra two points.
From the restart Sudbury ran the ball straight back at the opposition and quick hands shipped the ball right to left, leaving the defence standing and giving Johnston his second try.
Cantabs slotted over another penalty before half-time but the Sudbury defence was looking solid.
The break seemed to rejuvenate the Cantabs scrum and they were again pushing Sudbury off the ball and had stopped trying to ship the ball wide to the backs and were now keeping it tight round the fringes to retain possession.
From a scrum on the Cantabs 10-metre line, Scott Harries picked up from the base as the scrum was pushed back and again quick hands through the backs put Shaun Smith clear to secure a very important bonus point.
Cantabs’ second try came by way of a five-metre lineout which they took cleanly and drove over the line from short range halfway through the half.
Smith claimed his second when Sudbury turned over possession at the breakdown and the backs were too swift for the Cantabs defence.
On the half hour Sudbury scored from a break in their own 22 with Smith and Austin Beckett combining to make the metres and Harries providing the finishing touch.
Sudbury were put under pressure from a penalty kick deep into the 22. The ensuing maul was driven over the line by the Cantabs pack but was held up.
At the five scrum the ball came out and was taken back in so Harries went in after it but the referee was not happy with the move so awarded Cantabs a penalty try which they converted to complete the scoring.
A very tense game for the spectators but a superb effort by the boys to defeat their closest rivals and leave them on the brink of securing the league championship.