Colchester edged out away at Shelford

Colchester's Joe Flexman makes a tackle

Colchester's Joe Flexman makes a tackle - Credit: Nicholas Flexman

Colchester travelled to Shelford hoping for a repeat of their victory there last season.

Conditions at Davey Field were damp with a wind blowing towards the clubhouse corner where consequently much of the action took place.

Colchester’s team was much the same as the week before except half backs Matt Wadling and David Higgins were injured and their places taken by Brett Cutbush and Tom Miller with debutant Harry Barton coming in at fullback.

Cheshunt fielded a strong side with right wing Shingai Chiwanga and fullback Simon Hrbek performing particularly well.

During the opening exchanges neither side could break down the opposition defence but the impasse was broken when Shelford turned over a Black ball, shifted it right to Chiwanga who tore up the wing, jinked past the defence and scored a converted try in the corner.

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During this first half Colchester competed well in the scrums against a heavier pack but their lineouts were inconsistent and disrupted by their opponents.

Soon hooker Rhys Hartley was injured and replaced by Alfie Walsh and five minutes from half time the visitors drove Shelford back over their own line but could not ground the ball.

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The hosts were awarded a scrum five metres out but Chiwanga raced upfield and gained a penalty which Hrbrek converted putting the hosts in the lead 10-0.

After the interval Danny Whiteman came on for Andy Goodbourne at No.8 and was soon involved in a back row attack into Shelford’s half.

He passed to mobile prop Jerone Awesu who barged up the middle where desperate Shelford defence earned Colchester a penalty.

Crozier converted and at last the Blacks had points on the board.

But Shelford then moved further ahead when lock Andrew Hutchinson scored from a successful catch and drive move bringing the score to 15-3.

Then came the try of the game when Crozier charged down scrum half Charlie Baker’s kick after the restart and offloaded to flanker Ollie Pickett in hot pursuit, who raced over the line to score a converted try.

The intensity of the game increased in the final quarter and desperate defence by home centre Gerhard Wessels when he put in an illegal tackle saw him yellow carded and leave the game.

Again Crozier made sure of the penalty putting Colchester only two points behind with the clock running down.

Urged on by their spectators the Blacks raised their game even more and, from the restart, the ball was moved through many hands to right wing Dave Brennan who raced upfield only to be high tackled.

Referee Matt Rozier awarded a penalty and, once again, Crozier stepped up.

There was great suspense among players, coaches and spectators alike for, if successful, this kick would win the game.

The ball was well struck against a strong wind and sailed towards the uprights but glanced the wrong way off the right post to deny Colchester victory by the cruellest of margins, 15-13.

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