Colchester face title-decider against Eton Manor in London 1 North

Colchester, in red, against Chingford

Colchester, in red, against Chingford - Credit: Archant

The stage is set for Colchester’s final game of the season away to second-placed Eton Manor in the league decider after the Mill Road side triumphed in this top-of-the-table clash with Chingford on Saturday.

It was Colchester’s 24th consecutive win to stay top of the league.

They have scored more than 1,200 points and are the highest-scoring team in English rugby this season.

But all that will count for nothing if they don’t beat Eton Manor on Saturday – the loser of that game will have to try and gain promotion to National 3 via the play-offs.

Chingford have played their way into third place in the league with a well organised defence, competitive forwards and attacking back play. On Saturday, skipper Luke Campbell worked hard in attack and defence, scrum-half Ian Martin quick around the base of the scrum and centres Duffus and Howells probing their hosts’ defence.

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Anxious to win, Colchester could have scored more but for poor passing and fumbled knock-ons. Over eagerness led to repeated penalties in the first quarter, conceding possession and position until skipper Calum Irvine rallied his team to focus their intensity and reduce errors.

Chingford took the lead with a fourth minute penalty from Duffus after a series of offside penalties against Colchester.

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Ignoring warnings from the referee, flankers Ollie Pickett and Danny Whiteman were sin binned within minutes of each other, reducing Colchester to 13 players.

Two players down, Colchester decided attack was the best form of defence. No.8 James McRae burst through the Chingford midfield, scrum-half Matt Wadling squeezing ahead before linking with prop James Mitchell in close support to race in Colchester’s first try to take the lead.

Colchester exerted pressure and Chingford conceded penalties to prevent their hosts from adding to their score, repeated offside resulting in a yellow card for Duffus. Restored to 15, Colchester exploited their player advantage through forward rumbles led by lock Graeme Hay, Ollie Pickett and McRae drawing in defenders before the ball was moved wide where centre Matt Smith raced through a gap to touchdown under the posts. The hosts were penalised for a high tackle but Chingford failed to take the restart kick properly and conceded a scrum. The Colchester pack provided a solid platform from where the ball was whisked along the line for wing James Crozier’s overlap to score wide left, David Higgins adding a touchline conversion to end the half 21-3 in front.

Colchester skipper Irvine and Whiteman closed on Chingford’s tryline but a knock-on gave Chingford a scrum five metres out. The Colchester front row of Mitchell, Joe MacMillan and Charlie Thorogood out-scrummed their opponents, locks Hay and Liam Pickett pushing the visitors back to their own line where the scrum collapsed, giving the referee no option but to award Colchester a penalty fourth try and bonus point. Freddie Foxley scored a late consolation for Chingford.

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