Colchester miss out at Eton Manor
London 1 North Eton Manor 18 Colchester 16
London 1 North Eton Manor 18 Colchester 16
COLCHESTER slipped to second in the table following a below-par performance in a game they will rue many near missed chances to win the game.
Player injury and unavailability saw Colchester take eight back row players in their squad of 18.
Flankers Pat Duffy and Charlie Thorogod played in the front row and acquitted themselves well but were pitted against more experienced players in the Eton Manor pack.
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The hosts edged the scrums and dominated the line-out. Right-wing Reece Reed scored two tries and kicked the rest of Eton’s points whilst scrum-half Nick Horton impressed with his carrying and harrying throughout the game.
Early Eton Manor forward pressure earned a penalty as Colchester were penalised for handling in a ruck, Reed converting.
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Colchester replied immediately as Eton Manor were penalised for lying on the ball after the restart, Damien Brambley kicking the points. Reece restored the lead for the hosts after the Colchester forwards were penalised for pulling down a maul.
After ding-dong attacking rugby from both sides, Eton Manor’s Horton picked up from a scrum and darted across the pitch, drawing Colchester’s defenders, before finding Reece with a long pass that released the wing to run in the first try of the game to lead 11-3 after 15 minutes.
Colchester responded to dominate the second quarter, creating several scoring chances. Skipper Calum Irvine broke to within five metres of the hosts’ try line before being stopped; a try-saving tackle denied wing Jon Vine within stretching distance of the line and wing Dave Philp was clear, only for the move to be brought back for a forward pass. Knock-ons and wayward passing frustrated scoring attempts.
Eton Manor held out and came back to press at the end of the half, but Colchester defended stoutly to turn around 11-3 at half time.
Colchester started the second half in determined fashion. Full-back James Crozier drove into the hosts’ half where the defenders were penalised but Brambley’s kick narrowly missed.
Colchester kept up the pressure and lock Elliot Castle charged into the Eton Manor 22 where desperate defence was penalised.
Quick-thinking skipper Irvine tapped and ran the penalty, waltzing through the retreating defenders to stretch and place the ball for a try, Brambley converting.
Moving the ball about the field, Colchester pressed again. Jon Vine cut in from his wing, only to be felled by a dangerous high tackle. Brambley kicked the 40 metre penalty to put Colchester in front at 13-11.
Having clawed their way back, a lapse in concentration proved costly.
The restart kick was taken by Colchester but Eton Manor turned the ball over, spinning the ball wide for Reed to score wide right. The conversion hit the crossbar and fell in for an 18-13 lead with 20 minutes remaining.
Colchester fought to regain the lead as an unexpected defeat loomed. The visitors’ pressure led to a series of penalties, Brambley kicking one to bring the score to a nail-bitingly close 18-16, but he was unlucky with a couple of long-range penalty kicks that would have won the game as Eton Manor hung on for the win.
Braintree 8 Bury St Edmunds 49
BATTLING Braintree produced a much-improved performance against third-placed Bury St Edmunds and didn’t deserve to be on the wrong side of a scoreline that flattered their opponents.
The black and ambers were in contention for threequarters of the game but faded badly in the last 20 minutes when their resolve finally weakened and they conceded five unanswered tries.
But what looked on paper like a hammering didn’t reflect the true nature of a game in which the hosts played a full part and rattled their high-flying opponents early on.
The portents were looking good when full-back Joss Adams kicked his side into a 3-0 lead by converting a fourth-minute penalty awarded against Bury for not releasing.
The men from Suffolk got back on level terms four minutes later when the ref spotted an offside in the home ranks and Kiwi Brenton Krammer booted them level.
But Braintree were playing with confidence and they went on to spend large periods of the first half encamped in Bury’s 22.
Returning centre Guthrie Holliday was looking particularly dangerous with his elusive runs and the forwards were matching their oppositenumbers man for man.
Unfortunately the ebb and flow of the game was being hindered by some over-officious refereeing which saw second row Wes Apps yellow-carded for interfering in the ruck on 22 minutes.
The numbers were evened up when he was joined in the sin bin two minutes later by Bury’s Barry Frost, although nobody was quite clear what transgression had been committed.
It was the least the hosts deserved though when they finally went back in front on 26 minutes courtesy of a powerful short range run from prop Jamie Prince who crashed over for a score in the corner.
The black and ambers maintained their 8-3 lead until first half stoppage time when Bury kicked a penalty to touch deep in the hosts’ territory.
They secured possession from the resulting line-out, enabling No. 8 Warren Kearney to crash over for an unconverted try which levelled the scores at 8-8.
Seconds before the ref blew for half-time a yellow card was flashed at Braintree flanker Daryl Coote for coming in from the side, forcing his side to start the second period with 14 men.
Bury went ahead for the first time five minutes into the second half courtesy of a Frost penalty awarded after the hosts were pinged for coming in from the side again.
The game continued to be an evenly-fought affair until Bury finally put some space between themselves and their hosts thanks to a try from hooker Dan Cracknell on 62 minutes which put them 16-8 ahead.
Krammer kicked the conversion and five minutes later the Suffolk side were 25-8 to the good after replacement Kenny Eggers rounded off another fine break by Frost and he converted again.
By now Braintree were looking slightly demoralised and the killer blow came when Frost scored himself on 69 minutes as his fellow backs queued up to expose the gaps in the home defence.
With their heads starting to drop, any hope of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat ended when Coote harshly received a second yellow card – and his marching orders – for questioning the ref.
Winger Joe Flexman went over on 80 minutes to stretch his side’s lead to 35-8 and stoppage time tries from Kearney and outside centre Tim Man, both converted by Krammer, put Braintree to the sword.
Braintree Chairman of Selectors Jeff Lewis said: “We’re not in a very happy place at the moment and it’s hard to see where our next win will come from.
“We competed with a very good Bury side for more than an hour but we only seem to be able to perform to our best when the outcome of the game is in doubt.
“We seem to lose confidence when we concede and that happened on Saturday, which was surprising because we were the better team earlier in the game.
“It was a much better performance though and hopefully as our injured players continue to return our confidence will do so also.”
London North 2 Chemsford 13 Enfield Ignatians 37
THIS was a game where the third-placed team in the league (Cheimsford) played the fourth- placed team. It looked on paper a close game and the eventual score did not tell the story of the match.
Playing down the slope, the Enfield forwards made good inroads into Chelmsford territory, but it was an astute 40-metre crossfield kick by the visitors’ fly-half which was gathered at high speed, by man of the match Dannan O’Meachair, the Enfield winger crashing over for an unconverted try in the corner
Chelmsford immediately forced their way back into the game and were held up over the Enfield line before being awarded a penalty which Trayler kicked.
Enfield responded with a penalty when a Chelmsford player became isolated and hung on to the ball. Following considerable pressure on the try line, Quinney dived over to make the score 8-8 at half time.
Playing with the slope, most spectators, including those from Enfield, thought that Chelmsford would wrap the game up within the hour mark.
It did look that way when after five minutes of the second half. Chelmsford threw the ball wide in the Enfield 22 metre area and, with the try line beckoning, O’ Meachair intercepted the Chelmsford pass and ran a full 80 metres to score under the posts.
Chelmsford never regained their composure and within minutes a speculative kick by Enfield found a hesitant home defence flat footed and Emery, the Enfield centre, was given a free run in to make it 20 points to eight.
Chelmsford had problems with the hanging ball all afternoon from kicks and a driving maul allow Moore to score.
Chelmsford briefly came back into the game when their back row forward Jack Venn scored to reduce the defecit.
This was a brief resurgence and Enfield scored two further tries in the last 10 minutes to take the score to 37-13
Chelmsford did have over half a dozen key players missing but the game was there for the taking even so.
Eddie Gooby, the Chelmsford coach, will be hoping for more of his key players being available for next week’s game.
There they take on Charlton Park at home (kick off 2.00pm) in the third round of the National Intermediate Cup.
Essex League II Brightlingsea 36 Phantoms 5
BRIGHTLINGSEA needed a patient and controlled performance to overcome a spirited and well-organised Phantoms side.
The steadying influence of veteran Ian Wilkinson at full-back helped to eliminate the basic errors that proved so damaging at Dagenham and the backline, with Jim Gee and Alex Glister, had a more solid look.
The Brightlingsea pack dominated the line-out but were given a tough battle in the scrums and were forced to commit numbers to the breakdown to subdue the Phantoms’ counter-ruck.
The first half was a tight affair, Brightlingsea turning round 10-0 ahead with all their points coming from Jacob Baldwin with a penalty and a converted try.
They began the second half brightly when lock Richard Smith powered through the visitors’ defence for an excellent solo try.
Phantoms never gave up though and enjoyed their own periods of pressure culminating in a well-deserved try late on.
By then, however, Brightlingsea had secured the win and the bonus point with further tries from Baldwin and inspirational captain Karim Touzni, whose punishing runs and intelligent offloading had caused the Phantoms problems all afternoon.
Baldwin duly completed his hat-trick to round off a solid Brightlingsea performance.