Colchester push high-flying Wimbledon close in National 3

James Crozier takes a penalty for Colchester.

James Crozier takes a penalty for Colchester. - Credit: Archant

Colchester took no points but a lot of pride from an impressive display that saw the second-from-bottom team lead second-top Wimbledon until late in the game, before eventually succumbing 34-18.

James Crozier (right) gets to grip with a Wimbledon player

James Crozier (right) gets to grip with a Wimbledon player - Credit: Archant

Wimbledon are the league’s leading point scorers, and embarrassed Colchester 62-7 in the away fixture. However, Colchester surprised their visitors with commitment and skills belying their league placing.

The Colchester pack played their part, winning turnovers at breakdowns and lineouts and overcoming a weight disadvantage by shifting scrum ball quickly to their fast running backs.

Wimbledon started and finished the game strongly, displaying the handling and organisational skills that have made them contenders for promotion this season.

Forwards and backs combined to force Colchester into retreat, culminating in early tries for Jack Reville and Phil Viane. Wimbledon fly-half and skipper Bryan Croke added conversions to lead 14-0 in as many minutes.

Alex Rayment in action for Colchester against Wimbledon

Alex Rayment in action for Colchester against Wimbledon - Credit: Archant

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Colchester rallied, catching Wimbledon offside and James Crozier converted three points.

Then, referee David Herdman yellow-carded Colchester centre Te Albert for stepping on an opponent.

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Forward pressure forced play close to the visitors’ line where skipper Brett Cutbush squeezed over in the corner for Colchester’s opening try. Crozier broke down the wing, drawing Wimbledon’s defence before setting Harry Barton to race in a try. Crozier’s conversion put 14-man Colchester into the lead, 15-14 before the half hour.

The game then ebbed and flowed, Colchester denying Wimbledon ball, time and room to play. Colchester hooker Alex Rayment earned his man-of-the-match award with many charges with teammates.

Wimbledon got the scoreboard moving again in the 65th minute when Croke kicked an offside penalty. Colchester restored their lead two minutes later when Higgins converted three points.

The strength of the Wimbledon squad told as replacements added vigour in the final stages.

Croke’s final penalty and conversions of two late lineout catch-and-drive tries for lock Shawn Renwick flattered Wimbledon, who sealed a bonus point.

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