Colchester edged out in high-scoring thriller

London 1 North - Colchester 34 Thurrock 37

COLCHESTER’S top-of-the-table clash with league leaders Thurrock produced a feast of fabulous running rugby in a nail-biting thriller in which the lead kept changing hands.

Both teams earned bonus points for scoring four tries apiece but Colchester slipped to third, despite earning two bonus points and many plaudits in defeat.

Thurrock opened the scoring, when a lineout catch and drive resulted in a try for prop Stefan North, followed by a back move rounded off by wing Frankie Neale who converted his try for a 12-3 lead.

Colchester rallied and wing Jon Vine drove close to the Thurrock line where fly-half Louis Groves dropped a goal to reduce the deficit.

The restart kick was returned by No. 8 Cark Jeffs, linking with wing Dave Philps before Jon Vine powered through several tackles for a try, Withers converting to put Colchester into the lead 13-12.

Forced on the defensive, Thurrock were warned for handling in rucks before North was sin-binned. Colchester piled on the pressure, Chris Withers adding two penalties either side of seizing a dropped ball to sprint in from 40 yards for a try , which extended their half-time lead to 24-12.

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Thurrock attacked from the restart and Neale converted an offside penalty before full-back Darryl Worster cut through an extended Colchester defence, offloading to flanker Ben Timpson for a converted try.

Another Colchester clearance kick was kept infield by the wind and Thurrock counter-attacked for a try by captain Mike Stanley, converted by Neale.

Colchester levelled the scores when another missed clearance kick was fielded by Vine who countered, drawing a defender, before linking with Calum Irvine who released James Crozier to level the scores.

The wind was the villain again as another clearance kick failed to find touch. Neale caught, side-stepped and raced through for a try, extending Thurrock’s lead with a penalty for offside.

Colchester hit back with a breathtaking attack that Thurrock stopped by conceding a penalty near their line; Colchester took a quick tap penalty and spread the ball wide for skipper Irvine to dive for a try in the corner to bring the score to 37-34.

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