Colchester defeated by league leaders, but they show heart and fight
- Credit: Archant
National League 3 London & SE Tonbridge Juddians 32 Colchester 14 This was always going to be a tough match for Colchester, away to the league leaders who had only been defeated once all season.
And although they struggled to compete early on they stuck at their task and in the end, it was a game that could have gone either way.
Grey, wet and bitterly cold conditions greeted both teams and it was Tonbridge who dictated play through fly half Prescott. Strong running from centres McMahon and Nickel created opportunities for wing Ryan Fuller and by the end of the first quarter they’d scored four tries in the left corner, none of which were converted.
Colchester then got up a gear and even though conceding a lot of weight in the pack began to fight back.
Ben Murphy made a welcome return to the back row and together with Whiteman and Becket began to win quality ball.
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The ever-alert Brett Cutbush popped up on the inside of a break by James Crozier to score wide left and Crozier converted well to make the score 20-7 at half time.
The second half was an equally hard fought affair with the front five of Awesu, Thorogood, McMillan, Pickett and Castle going toe-to-toe with much bigger opponents. Defence in the backs tightened too with centres Brandon Fanula and Te Albert putting in some crunching tackles.
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Tonbridge scored after 42 minutes but Colchester swiftly replied with a try by Barnes putting full back Harry Barton clear. Crozier converted to bring the score to 25-14 and the visitors had much the better of play and only inexperience prevented another score.
Unfortunately, an interception try by home hooker Sam Bailey against the run of play effectively put the game out of Colchester’s reach. Colchester used their subs well with Rob Pickard and Alex Rayment boosting both back row and front row when needed. It was a fierce battle to the end with Albert and BJ Awesu taking heavy knocks.