Sudbury unable to leapfrog opponents despite victory
Sudbury 22 Norwich 15
Sudbury secured a home win in front of a large crowd on Saturday but missed out on vital bonus points, leaving them one point behind third-placed Norwich in the league table, instead of one point ahead.
Ben Scully’s side kicked off playing down the slope in gusty conditions and immediately taking play into the Norwich half, winning two early lineouts and pushing the visitors back at the first scrum.
Early exchanges were played out in the centre of the park until the quarter-of-an-hour mark, when Sudbury broke from their own 22 metre line. A move involving Arsalan Zahid, Chris Lewis, Charles Jackson and, finally Shaun Smith, who touched down, put them into the lead, with Lewis successfully converting.
Norwich missed an opportunity to put points on the board with a wayward penalty kick in the windy conditions but did get a try against the run of play, breaking from mid-way in their own half to score a converted try to bring the scores level.
Austin Beckett then made a telling run down the wing to put Smith clear for his second try and again, Lewis was on target with the kick.
Hooker Sam Maile was playing a great game impersonating wingers as he ran 30 metres with the ball in hand, which moved play deep into Norwich territory with a penalty giving Lewis three more points.
Sudbury continued to pressure the visitors but their defence held firm and kicks to touch with the wind kept Sudbury at bay until the break.
From the restart Norwich caught Sudbury offside and were then able to keep play deep in home territory.
Some loose play by the Blues did not help their cause and a penalty kick reduced the deficit.
Sudbury crossed the Norwich line after, but it was pulled back for a forward pass. But from the restart Sam Maile scored when the ball was moved from left to right the width of the park after 15 minutes of the half.
The hosts then squandered two scoring chances when they spilled the ball, having twice broken the defence, giving them a clear run in.
Disaster struck for Sudbury shortly before the end when Norwich put up a high ball, Shaun Smith and Jonny Taylor collided leaving them both prone on the pitch, and Norwich grabbed the loose ball to score.
Both players were carried from the field with leg injuries.
The resulting try, however, did give Norwich the bonus point for being within seven points at the finish.
So a Sudbury win was achieved, but it was not the clinical display of previous weeks.
The Blues, who lie fourth, travel south into Essex this weekend to take on bottom side Chelmsford, who have lost all five of their matches so far this season.