Sudbury rugby club new head coach Craig Burrows encouraged despite defeat at Colchester
The Blues made the short trip across the Essex border for the local derby in London 1 North missing six first-team players.
But despite trailing 17-8 at half-time the visitors managed to prevent Colchester scoring again thereafter and ended two points adrift at 17-15 to claim a bonus point.
“We had had quite a rough week,” said South African Burrows, who joined the club following three seasons as a backs coach at National League Bury St Edmunds.
“We had six of our first-team players unavailable due to work and other commitments, but the lads who stepped up did a fantastic job and it shows we have good depth.
“The game was a really good game and we had done a bit of homework. We put in place a gameplan and that worked really well for us.
“It was a really close result and we obviously had opportunities where we could have taken the points, but it was a loss. I would say we achieved some little goals though.
“Colchester are a very good outfit and I do not see many teams going to their ground and getting points to take home.”
England World Cup winner and Birtish & Irish Lions chairman Jason Leonard was among a crowd estimated at more than 650 to see the first competitive game at Raven Park.
But it was far from a memorable free-flowing contest, taking a full 100 minutes to complete the 80-minute match.
It was Colchester who raced into a lead within two-and-a-half-minutes as the backs laid the platform for Brett Cutbush to dot down. Fly-half Dan Lewis converted before going off injured, which disrupted the home side.
Chris Lewis’ penalty got Sudbury on the scoreboard before Colchester added their own 25 minutes in.
A quickly taken penalty sparked Colchester’s second try for scrum-half Andy Dixon to take advantage of a sleepy defensive line.
Sudbury battled on and Chris Lewis scored, though his conversion kick came back off the posts.
The break seemed to give Sudbury more impetus but the home side held firm amid the constant interruptions, until five minutes from time.
From a lineout by the touchline Colchester gave away three penalties before Sam Rust grounded the ball from under a heap of players. The conversion brought Sudbury to within two points of the hosts but the restart was academic as time was called seconds later.
Sudbury will look to bounce back at home to Thurrock on Saturday (3pm) with their Essex visitors having won their first game last weekend, 26-19 at home to Southend Saxons.
Assessing their season prospects, Burrows, who will be assisted by former coaching team Neil Dachtler and Dick Sumner until January, said: “I think we will do well this season and we will hold our own.
“We will perhaps be a work in progress and we will look at setting the goal for promotion next season if we feel we have proved we are good enough to make that benchmark.”
He added: “I think Dick and Neil have done a really good job but with a few tweaks and adjustments we could be a really good side.”