Colchester seal first National victory with 26-8 win over Eton Manor
- Credit: Archant
What a difference a few months makes.
The last time these two sides met they were battling it out at the top of London 1 North; now they are battling it out at the bottom of National League 3 – and in the end it was Colchester who got their first league win of the season.
It was Manor who scored first when early pressure at the scrummage was converted with a penalty after just five minutes.
Colchester replied swiftly with a penalty from Tom Miller to even the scores after 12 minutes.
The Essex side dominated for remainder of the first half playing the fast, wide game that their supporters have come to love.
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A new combo in the critical 8-9-10 trinity worked well with Brett Cutbush filling the critical fly-half slot and it was his drop goal that extended the home team lead in the second quarter.
The return of Lee Soper added maturity to the pack but it was skipper Liam Pickett who did most damage, winning much of the Manor line out.
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With ample ball the Colchester backs ran good angles with centre Matt Smith and wingers James Cozier and Sam Brown causing problems out wide.
It was full back Damien Brambley who finally converted pressure into points when a dummy drop-goal attempt wrong-footed the defence for him to score. Miller converted and added a penalty shortly afterward to give Colchester a well-deserved 16-3 lead at the interval.
Home team dominance continued briefly in the second half when the Manor no 6 was penalised for being offside and Millar slotted the penalty to provide a vital two-score buffer.
But if anyone expected Manor to wilt at this point they were wrong and just like with Gravesend, Colchester need to learn quickly that opposition don’t give up at this level.
The next 25 minutes saw Manor throw everything into attack.
Colchester defended well but ultimately conceded a try near the left touch line following a disrupted Colchester scrum. The conversion was missed but at 19-8 the game was still anyone’s and Colchester struggled to clear their lines with limited possession.
The use of substitutes injected new life into the home team and the last 10 minutes saw them clinch the game.
Two clear chances were missed with knock-ons but a clever chip from Brambley saw flanker Joe Flexman swoop to score and ice the game