Sudbury’s bid for second place and a promotion play-off spot in London League 2NE was given a double boost on Saturday.
The Blues scored six tries as they beat Chelmsford 38-3 for a five-point victory, and nearest challengers Wanstead surprisingly went down 32-22 at home to bottom club Old Cooperians.
Sudbury, on 73 points, are now nine points ahead of Wanstead, and the gap could be increased as The Herons are facing a disciplinary hearing at the Essex RFU. The club was informed of this after accumulating five red cards in the first half of the season, and may suffer a points deduction.
Despite missing some key players against a side undefeated their year, Sudbury went ahead from their first meaningful attack when Chris Whybrow scored after a good passage 11 minutes in.
Chelmsford opted to kick a penalty over before captain and man-of-the-match Jake Thurlow made a decisive break to put Sam Rust clear to dot down for 14-3 at half-time.
Jack Dachtler scored with less than a minute after the restart before three tries in the last 10 minutes — courtesy of Austin Beckett, Dachtler and Rust, who kicked three conversions successfully, made it a slightly flattering scoreline.
“Credit to Chelmsford, they are much improved,” said coach Ben Scully. “It wasn’t vintage Sudbury, but as I said to the boys after the game, if we are to go up, we have to find ways to win these difficult games.
“We said at the start we wanted five points. Maybe the process wasn’t perfect, but we’ve got five points.
“Our fitness came through once again, and we’ve scored tries late on.”
Injuries and unavailability forced Scully to make changes. “We’ve been lucky so far this season that we’ve had continuity,” he said. “The changes changed our rhythm, but I think the boys adapted, and the ones who came in did themselves credit.”
Chelmsford only looked like crossing the line when Sudbury gave the ball away. Scully continued: “A couple of times we had to scramble, and used a couple of get out of jail free cards this week, so we might have to pay for a few more of those.
“All credit to Narns (Neil Datchler) for what he’s doing with our defence. We soaked up the pressure well, worked hard and scrambled back.
• There are no fixtures on Saturday, with Sudbury back in action at Cantabrigians on March 3, giving Jonny Taylor, who went off late in the second half with a knee injury, plenty of time to recover.
Henry Cowling, who suffered a cut above the eye in training last Thursday, which required seven stitches, is unavailable for the Cantabrigians match, but should be back for the home game against Woodford a week later.
If Sudbury clinch a play-off spot, they will face the runners-up from London 2NW with the highest points total having home advantage.