Sudbury 31 Wanstead 27
LONDON THREE NORTH EAST
Sudbury 31 Wanstead 27
by Russell Claydon
at Whittome Field
GRAHAM Richards praised his side’s increased work ethic after tasting his first victory as Sudbury head coach.
Suds showed their best and worst sides over the 80 minutes as they cut open Wanstead’s defence to devastating effect only to let their opponents force their way back into the game and create a tense finale.
But a bonus point four tries, including two storming solo efforts from veteran Mark Bolton, was enough to see them to their first win of the season by a four-point margin.
A delighted Richards said: “The back line passed the ball very well and didn’t give the ball up.
“Over the previous two weeks we have tried to score straightaway but on Saturday we managed to hold on to the ball better in the backs.
“We also worked for each other a bit more – one person gets stopped and someone else is there to continue the move.”
He added: “We have been threatening, the week before in particular going to 22-22, and on Saturday we played better for longer.
“We just have to sustain that, we nearly let them in through the back door again at the end because of fitness, but we have a really young pack so it is sapping in the scrum all the time and their energy levels drop.”
Starting the match with no recognised wingers and Richards’ assistant John Coone having to again start due to injuries and unavailability, Wanstead missed two glaring penalty kicks as they dominated after a promising early passage from Sudbury failed to reap a reward.
But after weathering the storm, two successful kicks from captain Tom Summers put Sudbury 6-0 ahead. And their lead was increased when Gabriel Carroll burst through a gap and laid off for Smith to run in from 25 metres, Summers kicking the extras.
With the last phase of play of the half, Wanstead made it 13-7 when Nicholas Andrews dived over on the left and then successfully converted.
Andrews’ penalty reduced the deficit to three at the start of the second half but Bolton did the groundwork for James Ham to go over on the right-hand side to take the score to 18-10.
Just two minutes later, Bolton needed no help to exploit space on the right and ate up half the length of the pitch for another unconverted try.
But Wanstead kept themselves in the game with a try from fly-half Andrew Donovan before an offside infringement allowed Summers to move the score to 26-15.
Sudbury should have been comfortable but the lead was cut to four when Wanstead broke from the scrum and the ball was laid back from inside the in-goal area for Thomas Morgan to jump on, Andrews adding the conversion.
Bolton relieved the nerves with what proved to be the killer try two minutes from normal time after Wright had laid on, with a late five points from Wanstead’s Joe Smith merely earnt a bonus point in defeat.
But the visitors ended with 14 after number eight Lee Amman received his marching orders following a late dust-up.
Sudbury: J Carroll, Birmingham, Broughton, Taylor, Currie, Savory, Minter, G Carroll, Murray, Summers, Coone, Bolton, Smith, Ham. Replacements: Dedross, Burton, Chaplin.
Free Press man of the match: Mark Bolton. Centre rolled back the years with two fine individual tries from deep.