LONDON 1 NORTH: Eton Manor 26 Colchester 20
- Credit: Archant
Colchester’s first half loss of form cost them the game in this top of the table clash as Eton Manor scored 16 unanswered points in the first 30 minutes.
Unavailability of several experienced players forced a rearranged Colchester centre pairing as Brett Cutbush moved from half-back to three quarter for his first senior game, joining Damien Brambley at centre. Thomas exploited the inexperienced partnership to bag two tries early on.
Colchester almost got off to a scoring start, as scrum-half Sam Whitlam’s kick was taken over the line by an Eton Manor defender, after being hounded by Colchester number 8 Dan Whiteman.
The resultant scrum win was fumbled and Eton Manor won their scrum, kicked upfield, stole the lin-out ball and Thomas’ powerful running broke two despairing tackles to set up a platform from which recycled ball enabled him to score a try.
Eton Manor’s lead was increased by Thomas’ penalty kick. Thomas followed by breaking more midfield tackles and running in another try from open play. Colchester’s reluctance to release the ball in the tackle gifted Thomas a second penalty.
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Then, Colchester’s Dan Whiteman stole a lineout throw, Ollie Pickett made ground and recycled ball was whipped along the back line where James Crozier twisted his way over for a try.
At 16-5 behind, the visitors gifted their hosts another three points with a penalty for offside.
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Colchester raised their efforts to control the game for 30 minutes. Pressure led to Eton Manor conceding a string of penalties.
Crozier linked with wing Simon Parkinson to close to their opponents’ tryline and lock Liam Pickett scored a second converted try.
Whiteman then raced in for a try. Brambley’s strong running then led to Eton Manor conceding another penalty.
Crozier kicked Colchester into a 19-20 lead.
Having played their way in front, Colchester eased off. A poor clearance kick straight to touch gifted Eton Manor an attacking platform from which fullback Chris Jones joined the line to race in for a try.
Thomas converted to retake the lead and the win for Eton Manor.