Every team eventually has to face the disappointment of defeat and our 1st XV learned a great deal from our 17-27 defeat to Chingford. We certainly have the ability to dominate a team that had previously trounced all opposition, but we need to play the game on our terms and avoid getting into an unnecessary 'wrestling match' with our opponents. Finally we also have to recognise that their are some aspects of the game that we cannot control.
Chingford were prepared for our visit - according to one of their players the club deposited a few tonnes of sand onto the playing surface on Friday - you could still see the tractor tyre marks. I can say without a hint of sarcasm, that flip flops would have been the most appropriate form of footwear, not rugby boots! Even an official admitted that this special pitch dressing had been prepared just for us! So far on our travels this season we have seen a pitch that looks more like a farmer's field and another like Clacton beach… What's next?
Unfortunately, the match official's cards played a significant part in the game. From memory, there were at least seven yellow cards issued in total over the 80 minutes and other than the first 20 minutes, there were rarely 30 players on the pitch. Other than a couple of cards for bad tackles, the remaining cards were borne out of sheer frustration. Injuries also played a critical part in the game and once again I feel that for both teams, three substitutes were insufficient and this had a negative impact on the game. Despite the recent law changes the impact and physicality of the game remains the same. It is impossible to control some injuries and with just three substitutes available, impossible to cover all eventualities.
For me, the turning point of the game came just before half time, the referee awarded a try to Chingford, against the run of play. Up until that point, we were in possession of a lead, Chingford could not consistently break the gain line and we had a stranglehold on the contest - that we allowed that initiative to be wrestled from our grasp was the most disappointing aspect of the game. Without going into too much detail, an interesting interpretation of the rules worked in Chingford's favour at a maul on the Colchester try line, and this gave them the impetus required to re-build.
Early in the second half fly half David Higgins pulled up with a tight hamstring forcing a significant re-shuffle. In the second half there was no doubt, Chingford showed more tenacity, and once they were within touching distance of our score you could see that there was an absolute determination in their ranks to maintain their 100% record.
We pulled a try back just before the full time whistle blew - quick thinking (and a knowledge of the law changes) by Rob Pickard and James Crozier helped us get within touching distance of a bonus point, but to no avail. Whilst Chingford were celebrating a penalty try and debating who would convert it, our boys had set off realising that penalty tries are no longer converted - they are an automatic 7 points. Ollie Pickett touched the ball down for the last action of the game.
One thing I will add (with my Senior Rugby Chairman hat on) is that although this loss was disappointing, our players conducted themselves with a great deal of dignity in difficult circumstances. Very often it's possible to see opposition players fail to uphold the core values of the game when things don't go to plan; our boys managed this situation and showed respect for the game.
Special mention to Lewis Williams - Lewis made his 1st XV debut coming on early in the second half to replace David Higgins. Lewis had a spell on the right wing then reverted to scrum half when we were forced to make a raft of positional changes due to injuries. Lewis stood up to the test; Chingford were an uncompromising side and whilst every game presents a challenge, making your debut in a top of the table clash against the league leaders is no mean feat! Well done Lewis - I know that your old Colts coaches in particular were really proud to see you debut for the 1st XV!
Elsewhere, the Ravens matched National 2 outfit Henley RFC for large parts of the game. The game consisted of uncontested scrums and provided our lads with a very stern test. Jack White made his debut for the Ravens at fly half after a series of excellent games for the A XV. The game ended 28-46 to the visitors.
Our Colts went to Cambridge RFC and put on a superb display, edging a very tight game 14-15. The Colts team was full of 'first year' Colts and they can feel very proud of their performance and result.
Updated 19:57 - 5 Oct 2017 by Laura Parker