London 1 North: Colchester 28 Letchworth Garden City 10
- Credit: Archant
Colchester move up to third with win over Letchworth Garden City
Colchester’s teamwork delivered a hard-fought, four-try bonus pointswin against Letchworth on a soggy pitch, and moved them up to third place in the league. Colchester welcomed flanker Dan Whiteman (recovered from injury), prop James Mitchell (rejoining after a spell playing National League Rugby with Bury) and full-back James Crozier (served a red card ban) back and all made telling contributions to the win, along with centres Matt Smith, Joe Flexman and Damien Brambley.
Colchester conceded an early try on three minutes as Letchworth moved the ball in hand to manufacture an overlap for James Tirrell to score.
The hosts responded quickly and, after the ball was taken into a huddle but dribbled loose by the Letchworth forwards, Whiteman pounced to steal and recycle to Smith who scored.
Fly-half David Higgins converted to give Colchester the lead.
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Colchester added a second try shortly after when, after Crozier hacked upfield on the counter-attack, the wickedly-bouncing ball was collected by Brett Cutbush who, in turn, found Smith to go over for his second try. Higgins converted.
The visitors then won a series of penalties to progress upfield and a number of rumbles ended with lock Richard Penny scoring Letchworth’s second unconverted try.
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On the restart, Letchworth dropped the ball and Higgins scooped the ball up and delivered a superb disguised reverse pass to Joe Flexman who dived under the posts, easing Higgins’ conversion.
Following a Crozier counter-attack, Smith then almost completed his hat-trick but Colchester failed to add to their lead.
Letchworth relied on their forwards to retain ball and pin Colchester into their own half at the start of the second period but their only return was two narrowly-missed penalties before Colchester’s pack asserted control.
Flankers Whiteman and Ollie Pickett broke upfield, and as a result of Letchworth not releasing, Colchester earned a penalty and Brambley kicked near the try-line.
Lock Kieran Payne’s lineout win set James’s Crozier and Mitchell edging closer before Gregor Irvine found Brambley whose angled run at speed enabled him to crash over for the bonus point fourth try, Crozier converting.
Letchworth failed at a long range drop goal as Colchester nearly added two more tries but Ollie Pickett had the ball dislodged when tackled on the tryline, and James Mitchell also saw the ball removed at the line.