LONDON NORTH 1: Colchester 27 Chingford 7
- Credit: Archant
Colchester dug deep to play some of the most exciting rugby seen at Mill Road and notched an exhilarating bonus point victory in this top-of-the-table clash with Chingford.
The win moved Colchester up the league into third place, equal on points with second place Westcliff – who they play next – and three points behind Eton Manor. Chingford dropped from second to fourth.
Chingford started confidently, flanker Luke Campbell impressing with repeated carries, aided by No. 8 George Woodroofe’s pick-and-go runs from scrums.
Colchester conceded penalties and referee Simon Gaotcher’s sin-binned Gregor Irvine and flanker Adam Cook in the first 20 minutes.
Spurning kicks at goal to chase tries, Campbell’s 10th-minute try converted by Jessie Milne was Chingford’s only return for their early dominance as Colchester defended more resolutely the closer they retreated to their line.
After 20 bruising minutes, Joe Flexman’s crunch tackle dislodged the ball and fellow centre Matt Smith cleared upfield.
The Colchester forwards raised their game and began to unleash their more creative backs.
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Calum Irvine dispelled fears of lack of match practice with an inspirational display of tackling and running.
Ollie White’s line-out steal set young prop Jerome Awesu striding through midfield before linking with Cook and Smith to set wing Dave Philp in for a try.
Colchester ramped up the pressure with a series of attacks as a retreating Chingford conceded penalties. James Crozier converted one before Ollie White chipped ahead for Philp to chase and gather for his second try under the posts, a reversal of the roles in White’s try in the last home game. Crozier added the conversion for the 15-7 half-time lead.
Shocked at being behind, Chingford returned to the attack and came close to scoring, only to have the ball dropped in a tackle on the line as Colchester’s defence held.
Frustrated, Chingford kicked and Crozier counter-attacked, earning a penalty.
Gregor Irvine’s quick tap and go caught Chingford off-guard to set brother Calum running half the length of the field for his try.
Chingford’s restart kick was returned to their 22 by Colchester flyhalf David Higgins’ accurate long kick.
Colchester’s fitness told and they reversed Chingford’s early dominance but showed how to finish. Prop Joe McMillan and replacement flanker Jon Vine, on for the injured Cook, set up a platform from which hard-tackling lock Graeme Hay drove over for the bonus point fourth try, Crozier added the extras.
Colchester closed out the game, wing Damien Brambley heading unopposed for the Chingford line only to be brought back for an earlier infringement as the referee ended the game.