Sudbury awarded points as Chingford unable to raise a team to play at Whittome Field
London 1 North leaders Sudbury have effectively beaten second bottom Chingford without even taking to the pitch against them at Whittome Field following their scheduled weekend opponents being unable to raise a side.
The Epping Forest-based outfit have informed the league they are unable to raise a side due to a combination of Covid-19 cases and injuries.
A recent change to RFU guidance on call-offs now means they have to forfeit the match, rather than try and reschedule it or share the points.
It means Sudbury's players are awarded the maximum five points and could see their three-point advantage at the summit increase if Shelford fail to claim a bonus-point victory at home to mid-table Brentwood.
They will therefore be afforded an extended rest ahead of hosting Colchester on February 5 (3pm). The derby is a re-arranged fixture from when their north Essex opponents called off the pre-Christmas fixture at Whittome Field on Covid concern ground, when the RFU policy had been different.
Craig Burrow's Sudbury side had claimed a hard-fought 33-24 success in London last weekend against Belsize Park to make it five straight victories since their draw with Shelford.
Read Don Reekie's match report from their first ever match at Regent Park below.
Sudbury travelled to Regents Park for the very first time with some trepidation as they had only beaten their opposition with the very last kick of the game when they met at Whittome Field, writes Don Reekie.
They need not have worried though as they edged the contest against a strong outfit in slightly more comfortable fashion to maintain a three-point lead at the Lomdon 1 North summit.
For the first quarter of an hour Sudbury floundered and could not get into their stride taking a while to work out how to respond to Park’s aggressive start.
After six minutes of play Park scored when they shipped the ball wide to the left winger who sprinted clear to score out wide.
Ten minutes in Sudbury were reduced to 14 men with a yellow card and then, as he returned, another yellow card saw Sudbury play half the first half a man down.
The visitors had the advantage at the scrums and lineouts but both teams battled in the centre of the park in the rucks and mauls and the physical tackling.
Halfway through the half Sam Rust broke from some loose play on the edge of the 22 to score and convert which seemed to settle Sudbury.
Again from broken play, the Blues made ground and then were awarded two penalties which gave them a lineout five metres out. Quick hands took the ball out wide to score and convert.
Sudbury were now back in their stride and made several breaks which could easily have resulted in scores but for the determined defence of Belsize Park.
Jake Sumner eventually found a gap to score after a good passage of play but the home side replied with a break again down the left wing to score just before half-time to take the score to 19-10.
The second half continued with more determined tackling and a fine display of competitive rugby with the result always in doubt.
Sudbury pressurized Park from the start and at times were driving them back in possession.
Their scrummage was taking control and after a period of pressure and several penalties a quick tap penalty in front of the posts saw Henry Cowling cross the line for the bonus point.
Belsize Park rallied and again put Sudbury under pressure, their swift wingers pouncing on a loose ball to score.
The game was still in the balance and Sudbury were making silly mistakes as they seemed to be trying too hard for the win. But when Cowling intercepted a pass on the half-way line he broke and passed out wide to Jonny Taylor who ran in behind the posts to seal the win.
With only a few minutes left on the clock Belsize Park put in one last effort, driving Sudbury back into their own 22 metre zone and managed to score to get a fourth try bonus point as reward for a very hard fought game.