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Shelford make winning start to new year by beating Sudbury in London League 1N

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Brad Baker touched down Shelford's first try against Sudbury. Picture: Mike Harris
Brad Baker touched down Shelford's first try against Sudbury. Picture: Mike Harris

Shelford started the new year in style with a 35-18 win over Sudbury in an entertaining game in London League 1N.

Lewis Cracknell kicked 20 points and Brad Baker, Michael Halatuituia and Louis Tang all touched down as both sides produced plenty to give heart for the remainder of the season.

You could clearly see the abilities of the teams with ball in hand, although the broken nature of the game prevented this from being demonstrated to its full extent.

A contest was not allowed to develop properly at the breakdown, with penalties swiftly awarded, and this stopped any type of quick ball.

Shelford’s win was built on a solid defence though.

The visitors had shown more than just glimpses of what they could do in possession, but with space being closed down, they were being forced to try to go through the hosts, rather than round them.

It drew out the big tackles from Shelford, with their organisation standing them in good stead.

Many elements of their game suggested the building blocks are being put in place, but their work at the line-out particularly stood out, with locks Baker and Jordan Freer dominant not just on their own ball but also in a disruptive nature to foil and thwart Sudbury.

The Suffolk side did make the quicker opening, and posted the first points thanks to Sam Rust’s penalty after four minutes.

Shelford jumped into the lead seven minutes later, with Baker hitting a brilliant running line to take an inch-perfect pass and then power to make it 5-3.

There was a flurry of points in the final 10 minutes of the half.

Rust kicked Sudbury back in front, only for the penalty to be matched by Cracknell, with the Shelford fly-half adding a second to make it 11-6.

However, Sudbury drove for the line from a line-out and, when they were stopped just short, Henry Cowling had the wherewithal to pounce through the ruck to touch down to make it 11-11, with Rust’s conversion hitting the post.

Cracknell helped Shelford make the perfect start to the second half with a penalty after 44 minutes to make it 14-11.

Three minutes later, Sudbury crafted a well-worked try. They fielded a kick on their own 22, and ran it back with interest, with Rust breaking and chipping to Sam Bixby, who offloaded to Sam Maile to touch down, with the extras making it 18-14.

Two penalties in six minutes from Cracknell edged Shelford into a 20-18 lead, and they never looked back.

Cowling was yellow carded for Sudbury after 63 minutes, and Frazer Beckett followed him into the bin four minutes later.

Shelford crafted a well-worked try in the 76th minute as play was spread along the line at pace and Alex Long got a great off-load away over his head to Michael Halatuituia to race away to touch down.

Cracknell converted and then added a penalty to make it 30-18.

The icing on the cake was the hosts’ final try.

Matt Gregerson won a turnover in his own 22, and went wide to Cracknell. The fly-half reached halfway, before going wide again to Tang, with the flying winger sprinting clear to touch down.

Shelford: Mepham; Chiwanga, Naulusala, Biard, Tang; Cracknell, Baker; Mann, Corrigan, Driver, Baker, Freer, Martinelli, Halatuituia, Beswick.

Replacements: Gregerson, Lea, Long.

Sudbury: Sumner; Rust, Jackson, Lewis, Taylor; Wadforth, Beckett; Dain, Maile, Conning, Dachtler, Bixby, Whybrow, Thurlow, Cowling.

Replacements: Barry, Randle, Chaplin.

Scorers: 5min Rust pen (0-3), 11 Baker try (5-3), 36 Rust pen (5-6), 39 Cracknell pen (8-6), 40+2 Cracknell pen (11-6), 40+6 Cowling try (11-11), 44 Cracknell pen (14-11), 47 Maile try - Rust con (14-18), 53 Cracknell pen (17-18), 59 Cracknell pen (20-18), 76 Halatuituia try - Cracknell con (27-18), 80+3 Cracknell pen (30-18), 80+9 Tang try (35-18).

Sin bin: Sudbury - Cowling (technical offence, 63), Beckett (technical offence, 67).

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