Colchester battle to hard-fought away success against Romford & Gidea Park

Colchester v Romford scrum

Colchester v Romford scrum - Credit: Archant

Romford & Gidea Park 23 Colchester 32

Colchester's forwards earn a free kick against Romford

Colchester's forwards earn a free kick against Romford - Credit: Archant

Colchester rallied to rout Romford in their opening London 1 North fixture of the 2013/14 season, overturning a half-time deficit with a second half display of exciting running rugby that gained a four-try bonus point.

Illness sidelined Colchester team captain Calum Irvine, preventing him playing his first game with younger brother Gregor at scrum-half.

However, newcomer Matt Smith’s hard running and tackling created a try and a couple of assists in a man-of-the-match debut, while flanker Dan Whiteman crowned a hard-working performance with two tries.

Wing Damien Brambley ran in a fourth and skipper James Crozier added 12 points from the boot.

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The game was delayed for an embarrassing 12 minutes as Romford hunted for the missing match ball – which they then chose not to share much with Colchester. The Romford pack quickly controlled the scrum, dominating three-quarters of first half possession.

Early Romford pressure enabled centre Matt Phillips’ to convert two penalty kicks for the lead, while Colchester threatened the ball.

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Romford were penalised for a crooked feed at a midfield scrum and flanker Ollie Pickett’s midfield charge set a midfield platform. Matt Smith attacked, breaking a couple of tackles, before finding Dan Whiteman who crossed for his and Colchester’s first try.

Continued Romford pressure saw Phillips’ penalty extend the lead.

An advancing Romford scrum was brought down just before the line, earning Colchester No. 8 Andy Goodbourn a yellow card.

Romford opted for another scrum but the ball squeezed out, wing Sam Coomber sliding through two tackles to score a try. Phillips added the conversion for the 16-5 half-time lead.

Starting the second half a man down, Colchester decided to attack.

Quickly heeled scrum ball was picked up by Whiteman who linked with Irvine to set up a fast-paced attack. Smith took the ball in his own half before cutting through the Romford defence to run in a fine try to the cheers of the visiting supporters, Crozier converting.

Colchester pressed, Romford conceding penalties and earning Phillips a sin-binning for not releasing a tackle, Crozier’s midfield break ending with his penalty kick to bring Colchester within a point.

Yellow fever appeared to seize referee John Durkin in this well-tempered game, sin-binning Colchester prop Miles Picher for a perplexing scrum offence. Romford’s Coomber got the fourth yellow card soon afterwards for preventing a quick tap penalty. Colchester edged into the lead from Crozier’s penalty.

A line-out steal enabled Colchester to extend their lead. Counterattacking, Matt Smith handed off defenders before Damien Brambley juggled but caught his pass, sidestepped his marker and race from halfway to score.

A gust blew another lineout throw awry, Whiteman quickly seizing the loose ball and zipping 30 metres for a try. Crozier kicked both for a 16-32 lead.

The Romford pack scored a deserved scrum pushover consolation try, Phillips converting.

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