Colchester go agonisingly close to beating East Grinstead

Colchester captain Liam Pickett scores their only try in a narrow defeat at East Grinstead

Colchester captain Liam Pickett scores their only try in a narrow defeat at East Grinstead - Credit: Nicholas Flexman

Colchester came within an ace of beating third-placed East Grinstead, in a close game where the lead changed hands no less than four times.

The Blacks fielded debutant Ben Kelland at No 4 and also saw the return of Charlie Marsden at No 8, both of whom performed well.

Referee Dave Huson spent quite a time settling the scrums down but eventually the game opened up as Colchester attacked the home corner only for defender Adam Halsey to receive a yellow card for being offside at the ruck. The game continued with the home side tending to have the upper-hand in the scrums and Colchester dominating the lineouts. Soon the ball was passed to centre Damien Brambley who kicked it forward but the following players were obstructed and Higgins’ penalty made it 3-0 Colchester.

From the restart the home side raised their game and attacked the visitors’ line ending with flanker Mike Danbee scoring a try, converted by fly half Liam Prescott, putting them 7-3 in the lead.

Higgins then converted a penalty, bringing the half-time score to 7-6.

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At the start of the second half the Blacks had a purple patch where the ball was passed quickly through several hands before Murphy was forced into touch close to the East Grinstead line.

Colchester’s pack muscled the ball forwards for skipper Liam Pickett to claim a try for the Blacks to retake the lead 11-7.

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Halfway through the second half Prescott received a yellow card and East Grinstead had to spend ten minutes without their main kicker.

Despite this they surged forward with ball in hand and, despite stout resistance from the Blacks, hooker Rhys Hartley powered over the line for an unconverted try to put the home side back in front.

Later Joe Flexman came off the bench to replace the excellent Murphy just before the returning Prescott was successful with a penalty kick to extend East Grinstead’s lead to 15-11.

In a last throw of the dice Colchester attacked the home corner and won a lineout but, couldn’t convert the chance.

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