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Sudbury head coach Craig Burrows confident side will come back stronger from Shelford defeat to seal promotion at Old Haberdashers



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Craig Burrows is confident his Sudbury players will not suffer a hangover from their painful defeat to title rivals Shelford as they look to wrap up promotion this weekend with two games to spare.

A Covid-delayed RFU restructure of its ‘community game’ is set to go ahead this summer creating an extra league at the level currently above them.

It means there is set to be a minimum of three teams promoted from both London 1 North and South to help fill it.

Sudbury's players head into Saturday's away match at Old Haberdashers knowing a bonus point victory would seal promotion Picture: Mark Westley
Sudbury's players head into Saturday's away match at Old Haberdashers knowing a bonus point victory would seal promotion Picture: Mark Westley

A four-point haul for Burrows’ side – a win and a four-try bonus point – at ninth-placed Old Haberdashers on Saturday would guarantee a top-three finish regardless of the outcome of Colchester’s fixture. Their fourth-placed local rivals host basement dwellers Chingford.

But they will have to quickly brush off last weekend’s 35-15 home loss to Shelford (report page 38) in what was effectively a title showdown.

“We have plenty to work on where we came stuck and we will come back stronger on Saturday,” insisted head coach Burrows, whose side were left six points adrift of the leaders with the Cambridgeshire outfit having only lost once this term.

Sudbury head coach Craig Burrows has had a successful first year at the helm Picture: Mark Westley
Sudbury head coach Craig Burrows has had a successful first year at the helm Picture: Mark Westley

“It’s hurt the boys, especially all of the chanting afterwards saying ‘we are going up’, which it should, but we will bounce back and rectify for the next three games.”

A draft redraw of the new-look pyramid circulated to clubs by the RFU based on tables as they stood after fixtures on March 5 shows Sudbury would enter an East Anglia and Kent area ‘Regional 1C’.

Other teams included, if the season had finished before games on March12, would have been: Hertford, North Walsham, Westcombe Park, Sidcup, Tring, Tunbridge Wells, Oundle as well as fellow elevated sides in Bedford Athletic, Shelford, Harpenden and Medway.

"It's supposed to be a National 3 League which will be very competitive," said Burrows.

Henry Cowling goes up for the lineout out against Shelford Picture: Mark Westley
Henry Cowling goes up for the lineout out against Shelford Picture: Mark Westley

"We have had a rough look at the teams which would be in there after the RFU put a rough sketch out.

"It would be very competitive and a great step for the club.

"There will be more travelling. One of our furthest trips would be North Walsham or Kent."

On Saturday, a convincing performance from Shelford at Whittome Field, having never trailed in the game, saw them break the 100 point barrier in the table to open up a six-point advantage over Sudbury.

Given that they have only lost one game in their 23 fixtures, having drawn 13-all with Craig Burrows’ side courtesy of a last-gasp penalty in November, it seems highly improbable they not end top of the pile.

And Burrows himself was left in a similar mindset at full-time, saying: “They were the better side today, they wanted it a lot more than we did and they came out and they proved it.

“For them to play the way they did they proved they are a top team and they should be number one on the log.”

He added: “When you get stuck in games like these all you need is a little sniff to get back into the game and we couldn’t get that today.

“Unfortunately we were doing a few things we’ve never done on the training park and hence why we were losing ball at set pieces and their scrum was very powerful.”