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Sudbury head coach Neil Dachtler angry after costly penalties hand London 1 North clash to Amersham and Chiltern

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It was an angry Neil Dachtler who criticised his players in the middle of the Ash Grove pitch immediately after Sudbury’s 21-16 defeat at Amersham and Chiltern, in London 1 North on Saturday, writes Ken Watkins.

The Sudbury head coach’s words could not be heard on the touchline, but the message was clear.

Costly penalties - an all too familiar story this season - handed the game to the hosts, and the players need to kick the habit if they are to survive in this division.

Sudbury II’s Christopher Curran leads the way Picture: Richard Marsham
Sudbury II’s Christopher Curran leads the way Picture: Richard Marsham

“If we keep throwing away games like this, we don’t deserve to be where we are now,” Dachtler said.

“We let it get away from us. Such a frustrating thing to do. To be in front at half time and then finish this game losing. Even though we did get a bonus point, that’s nowhere near a bonus. This is one we definitely should have won.”

Amersham’s second try, early in the second half, followed two penalties for dissent, each costing an extra 10 metres, followed by a yellow card.

“We’ve got to learn to shut up, get on with it, and take our medicine when we need to,” he said.

Dachtler declined to blame refereeing decisions for the defeat.

“They can’t blame anyone but themselves. We’ve got injuries, but we had a fantastic side out, and when we stuck to what we have trained to do, we made metres and we scored points.

“But when we do something that’s completely unscripted, we fall foul. Then we get frustrated with ourselves, concede penalties, which means we go backwards, get more frustrated, which means more penalties. We’ve got to break that cycle.

“When we are playing rugby we look fantastic. Unfortunately we only played about 10 minutes rugby in the game, and that’s when we got our points.”

Comfortably in control, and 13-7 in front at the interval at Ash Grove, a burst of indiscipline early in the second half handed the initiative to the hosts, and Sudbury were never able to regain their ascendancy.

Twice in quick succession refereeing decisions provoked comment, and cost an extra 10 metres, the resulting kicks taking play from deep inside the home 22 to Sudbury’s red zone.

Jake Thurlow then collected a yellow card in the 54 th minute, and one minute later Amersham picked up seven points to take the lead.

A try six minutes from the end, following another series of penalties, put Amersham further ahead, and only a late penalty from Sam Bixby rescued a losing bonus point for the Blues, scant consolation for a match they could so easily have won.

In truth, it was a scrappy game, with both sides guilty of errors, and few flowing moves as defences proved the dominant factor, the occasional promising moment all too frequently being ended frustratingly by the sound of the whistle.

And yet Sudbury, forced by injuries and unavailability to make changes from the side that beat Harpenden a week earlier, had started well, taking a deserved lead in the 12th minute, after Amersham had been penalised just outside their 22. Three points for Bixby, the first of his four successful kicks.

Amersham went ahead after 24 minutes after Sudbury were penalised five metres out, Ben Dugdale profiting from the ruck to go over, Jack Kenyon converting.

Bixby added another three points in the 29th minute, and six minutes later, following a lineout and several excellent phases, Sam Maile found the gap to score, Bixby converting.

Sudbury looked comfortable. But it all unravelled early in the second half.Thurlow and Henry Cowling went off injured late on to round off a deeply frustrating afternoon.

Sudbury, second from bottom, host fourth-placed Southend Saxons on Saturday (3pm).