Essex rugby round-up: Colchester, Braintree and Chelmsford
- Credit: Archant
Essex rugby round-up, featuring Colchester, Braintree and Chelmsford.
LONDON 1 NORTH
Colchester won another bonus point away victory to stay second in the league despite a below-par performance against a skilful and determined Barking side.
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Injuries to Dave Higgins, Damo Brambley and Brett Cutbush saw enforced changes for Colchester who fielded five centres in seven of the back positions at the start of the game.
Colchester did just enough in patches to mount powerful attacks that saw regular centre Matt Smith bag a brace of tries, while there were scores for skipper Calum Irvine and returning wing David Philp.
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However missed tackles, poor passing, fumbles and turnovers forced Colchester to cling onto their lead in the face of a late Barking revival.
Barking were playing higher national league rugby until being relegated last season and the hosts’ powerful and committed pack gave Colchester their most effective opponents this season. Props Sam John and skipper, Jordan Saunders, proved a handful as ball carriers and in the scrums, the back row of Badcock, Hayes and Ox disrupting Colchester on the fringes throughout.
Speedy centres Aaron Higgins and Ashley Wright were elusive runners, both scoring tries.
From the kick-off, Barking caught Colchester flat-footed in defence, centre Ashley Wright racing in the first score. Ben Lloyd’s conversion was flagged good by the line judges but overruled as a miss by referee David Parsons.
Shaken into action, Colchester combined forward and back surges, catching Barking offside. Full-back James Crozier converted the penalty into points. Continuing to pressurise, lock Liam Pickett and scrum-half Matt Wadling made ground before Calum Irvine cut inside to score under the posts, Crozier’s conversion putting Colchester in front.
The restart was returned by flanker Ollie Pickett before wing Ben Murphy stole into space and linked with Smith who stepped inside his opponents to score. Crozier converted then displayed his running prowess with a 50-metre counterattack, flanker Ollie White stealing a Barking line-out from which Matt Smith cut through for his second try to take the score to 5-22.
Barking rallied, skipper Jordan Saunders finishing a series of forward drives with a pushover try that took the score to 10-22. Barking pressed but an interception by Colchester replacement wing Dave Philp almost led to another try just before half-time.
The second half saw Barking score next, a back handling move at speed resulting in a well-taken try for Aaron Higgins, Lloyd converting. This galvanised Colchester.
Crozier again ran through the Barking defence, lock Eli Castle making ground, fellow lock Graeme Hay drawing defenders before spinning a pass to Philp to race in his and Colchester’s fourth bonus point try wide right.
Barking were penalised for throwing an elbow and Colchester kicked close to their line. The Colchester pack enjoyed a purple-patch in out-scrummaging Barking, three consecutive scrum penalty offences leaving referee Parsons no option but to award a penalty try. Crozier added the conversion to take the lead to 17-34.
The game appeared won but as Colchester switched off, Barking stepped up.
A cross-field run by Higgins created the space for Wright’s second and Barking’s fourth bonus point try before lock Conor O’Toole grounded a catch and drive pushover try, Lloyd adding the conversion for an exciting last two minutes that Colchester hung on to win.
LONDON 2 NORTH
For the first time this season Diss travelled away from home and secured all the spoils.
After five minutes, Matt Richards scored close to the posts following excellent close quarter work from an already dominant pack and Jack Peacock then slotted an easy penalty to ease Diss into a 10-0 lead.
Paul Cayley, John Bergin, Henry Passmore and captain, Fraser Hall all led from the front, driving play deep into the heart of the Braintree defence, enabling Tom Holt, the prolific Giles West and Jamie Burroughs to score within a fruitful five minute period.
Leading 29-0 at half-time, Diss continued to dominate play in the second half and Tom Holt was able to score wide out on the right with Jack Peacock converted.
Diss did over-elaborate phases of the game and errors did creep into their play but Fraser Hall still managed to pop up half way through the second half to burst through from 15 metres to score.
Tim Groom then appeared from the bench and after only two minutes scored a close-quarter try to keep the momentum going.
Braintree responded with a deserved try of their own following a brief period of pressure in the Diss twenty two, Ryan Carter completing the scoring.
Old Cooperians 11
Missing five front-line players, Chelmsford managed to round off a comprehensive win against basement side, Old Cooperians, coming away with a bonus point victory.
Trailing 11-7 at half-time, Chelmsford hit back with three tries in the space of 10 minutes, early in the second half, which saw them gain confidence and set the tone for the rest of the half.
Both teams showed a willingness to run the ball from the off, but the handling and passing from both sides contributed to a first half littered with mistakes, while Chelmsford also found themselves on the wrong side of the penalty count.
The visitors opened the scoring through Jamie Morrish, who was able to touch down in the left hand corner for a well-deserved try, suitably converted by Simon Hoult.
The lead was cut to four points when Chelmsford were found guilty of deliberately knocking the ball on and the ensuing penalty kick was successful.
On the half hour mark Chelmsford were caught napping, and a quickly-taken tap penalty saw the home side with a chance to score in the corner, but Jamie Ash managed to clear the ball away.
Five minutes later the hosts took the lead. Following a break from their own half, and with some good work through the phases, they scored an excellent try in the right hand corner to take an 8-7 lead.
Their lead was increased just before half time to 11-7, when number 8 Simon Quinn, was found guilty of not rolling away from a tackle near to his line and in doing so was yellow-carded.
Old Cooperians were punished near to their line early in the second half when they came round the wrong side of the scrum. From the line-out, a catch and drive saw second row, Matt Lincoln dive over for a well-taken try, Hoult converting.
Minutes later Morrish made a good break and centre Tristan Olive ran strongly to score by the posts. Hoult converted.
Dean Lester then came on at prop for Steven Prest and a great drive at the scrum saw Chelmsford push their opponents back 10 metres and substitute lock, Nick Crouch picked up the loose ball to score a try, increasing the lead to 26-11.
Chelmsford’s next try was started off by scrum half Ben Bailey, who threw out a long pass which found Morrish and, with Ash in support, he went over underneath the posts, Hoult converting.
Twenty minutes into the half, a mistake by the home side led to a loose ball being hacked on and Morrish won the chase to the line for an unconverted try. A penalty by Simon Hoult increased the lead to 41–11 and then Chelmsford finished off with a flourish to record three tries in the last eight minutes, thanks to Ash, Morrish and with substitute wing Jack Acorn.
Chelmsford return to home league action on November 15 against Holt, kick-off is at 2.30pm. There will be a VP’s lunch, so please confirm with Andy Green if you wish to attend.