Sudbury Rugby Club take derby spoils from intense derby with Colchester at Whittome Field
Sudbury’s local derby against Colchester at Whittome Field on Saturday turned out, as expected, to be a hard fought close game with a nail-biting conclusion as the hosts triumphed 29-22, writes Don Reekie.
The London 1 North leading Blues, still missing some key players due to injury and Covid, were not expecting an easy ride and had prepared well. But mid-table Colchester, the only side to have inflicted defeat upon them this season, had a game plan to disrupt their open style of play and they struggled at times to get into a rhythm.
It was Colchester, who chose to play up the slope in the first half, who got the first points on the board, with a penalty kick seven minutes in.
The Essex side enjoyed the lion’s share of the possession in the first quarter, crossing the Sudbury line but failing to touch down.
Sudbury then rallied and after several penalties given away by the visitors, Sudbury rolled the maul from the penalty lineout and Sam Rust nipped over the line from close range. He then converted the difficult kick from the left touchline into the stiff breeze.
Henry Cowling increased the lead when he took a pass in a crowd of players in the middle of the park and spotted a gap and ran through the defence to score after 20. But this time Rust hit the post with the kick.
Sudbury were now enjoying their best period of the game, with good hands they were looking confident and Frazer Beckett scored under the posts 23 minutes in after a break involving Jake Thurlow and Jack Dachtler.
Colchester came back into the game toward the end of the half and even though they were a man down to the sin bin, they always looked dangerous with ball in hand. After a period of pressure and several set pieces in the Sudbury red zone they scored after their scrum put in to end the first half trailing 17-10.
The second half started with Sudbury attacking but the fierce defence by both sides showed the result was far from certain.
Rust slotted over an early penalty from 39 metres out and Colchester lost another man to the sin bin.
Sudbury continued to press in the Colchester 22 but fell foul of the referee.
Colchester kicked deep to touch but the wind brought the ball back into play. Ryan Steer caught the ball cleanly and the backs combined with good hands to ship the ball cross field for Jake Sumner to touch down for the hosts, Rust again converting.
As the half progressed Colchester came back into the game and again looked very dangerous every time they were in possession of the ball.
Sudbury had to dig deep and brought on some fresh legs to help with defence.
A missed tackle saw Colchester score form just inside the Sudbury 22 to bring the gap down to 10 points and the crowd sensed the tension.
With five minutes left to play Colchester scored again but failed to convert so would still have to score twice to win.
Sudbury kept play in the Colchester half with both sides giving away penalties to prolong the game.
Sudbury had an opportunity to end the game when a kick to touch was fluffed and play was extended by 10 minutes as both teams battled for the win as the play cannot finish if a penalty has been awarded and must be played out.
Eventually Sudbury gained possession in open play and ended what had been the most intense game seen at Whittome Field this season.
It maintained a three-point gap at the top of the London 1 North table.