Colchester defeat Guernsey in National 3 thriller
- Credit: Su Anderson
Colchester worked hard for their win over Guernsey in this nail-biting thriller, third time lucky against the Channel Islanders who won both the away league fixture and pre-season friendly.
The win was testimony to the improvements director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan has added to his Colchester squad this season
Starting the day four places above Colchester in the league, Guernsey play a physical and direct style of rugby that tested the defensive mettle of their hosts as they retained the lion’s share of possession.
Guernsey started strongly, cold fingers leading to a Colchester knock on five metres from their line. The resulting scrum was driven to the Colchester line where referee Benedict Preece awarded Guernsey a penalty try, fly-half Owen Thomas adding the conversion.
Stung into action, Colchester responded quickly. From the restart, the Guernsey ball carrier was bundled into touch by centre Matt Smith. Skipper Liam Pickett rose to win the throw and Colchester drove on, tying in defenders until scrumhalf Brett Cutbush’s pass found Brambley who powered over the line, David Higgins adding the touchline conversion.
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The game then swung to and fro, Brambley twice rounded his opponent but Guernsey’s drift defence shut out the threats. Both sides traded penalties to bring their scores to 10 apiece.
The stalemate was broken by a Brambley midfield tackle, the turnover ball hoofed upfield where a knock-on earned Colchester a scrum.
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The Mitchell brothers sorted their opposing props and James and Alex steadied the Colchester scrum from whence Cutbush sped the ball wide, Smith passing out of a tackle to feed Irvine who dragged tacklers with him to score under the posts.
Guernsey recovered their restart kick to mount a series of attacks, edging ever closer to the Colchester line – until wing James Crozier’s well timed interception sent him racing three-quarters the length of the field for an opportunist’s try.
Waves of forward pick and go attacks recycled possession as Guernsey ground forward, Colchester working hard to defend their line until flanker Eamonn Chapman twisted his way over for a try, Thomas converting.
Déjà vu waves of attacks followed, another Guernsey attack held up on the line. Colchester’s staunch defending forced a fumble and from the scrum No. 8 Sam Easton surged upfield, Danny Whiteman supporting. Higgins led a breakout passing to Brambley who broke to halfway before linking with Irvine who ran in his second try from 45 metres.
Guernsey laid siege to the Colchester line, Adam Nixon darting over for a try that Thomas converted for 27-24.