Sudbury pull clear of London 1 North relegation zone - but it was not comfortable at bottom side Diss
Sudbury edged closer to London 1 North survival at the weekend, but coach Ben Scully was the first to admit the 20-19 away victory over bottom of the table Diss had been a ‘lucky escape’.
The four points Sudbury picked up leave them five ahead of relegation rivals Ruislip, who they host in the season’s final match on April 13, and six ahead of third-bottom Fullerians, with two matches to play. The bottom three are ear-marked to go down, pending any reprieves.
Fullerians travel to second placed and promotion play-off bound Colchester on Saturday, so unless that game produces a major shock, both Sudbury, who host mid-table Old Priorians, and Ruislip, who host Diss, look likely to have safety confirmed by 4.40pm.
“We needed a win,” said Scully. “We spoke about the win being the most important thing, but if I’m honest I wanted to win in style, to come here and put on a bit of an exhibition, win convincingly, put us in a good mental place for two tough up-and-coming games. But we got the win, even if it was scraping through by the skin of our teeth.”
Diss missed two kickable penalties in the second half. “We could have had a very different story, losing 25-20,” said Scully. “Diss will be frustrated, just as our boys are frustrated. It was a lucky escape.
“We pulled them apart well in the first half, breaking down the 13 channel well, but we couldn’t quite flood through and finish that off. Once we made that break on 13 they
got into those passing lanes very well. They blocked our passing options off well. I don’t know whether it was more luck than judgment.”
Scully said he felt Sudbury had “left three, four chances out there in the first half. Diss played well in the second half. A game of two halves, that old cliché.
“Certainly in the first half we negated their strengths well. Second half they were a lot more confrontational, we backed off. They played a good offloading game, and we didn’t quite snuff that out.”
Scully described Sudbury’s last three fixtures of the season as “three cup finals in a row. We’ve scraped through one. Tough one next week against Priorians, and a tough one against Ruislip. It makes things exciting.”
Things had started well for Sudbury at Diss on Saturday with Tom Murray shipping the ball wide from the breakdown with Matt Johnston finishing off Harry Maile’s good work four minutes in.
But it was not long before Diss struck back through hooker Matt Richards’ close-range finish.
Handling errors cost Sudbury further points but Murray did go over for a 13-5 lead at the break.
Harry Maile scored soon after the restart but Diss came back to within a point, setting up a very nervy last 15 minutes.