Old Haberdashers' 14 | 19 Colchester 1st XV
A tough battle fought out in trench like conditions, but ultimately Colchester come away with the victory
The wet and muddy pitch at Borehamwood didn’t allow for the free flowing rugby that both these sides excel at and at the end of the day Colchester adjusted better to the conditions than their hosts and won this difficult fixture by dint of their ‘pick and go’ tactics in the second half.
Old Haberdashers started well and were on top in the set pieces but this situation changed as the pitch became more soggy. They won a lineout near the Blacks’ line and ran in a try that their fly half converted putting them 7-0 ahead after only ten minutes. As conditions deteriorated in the steady drizzle the visitors raised their game and the battle was on. In an effort to relieve the pressure of an attack by Colchester, the hosts’ fly half made the mistake of kicking the ball down field to full back Will Brown who darted back through the defence to put wing James Crozier over for a great try in the corner. The conversion was missed and the score was closer now at 7-5.
From the restart Colchester caught the ball and kept possession through several phases working their way towards the Old Haberdashers’ line. After a successful scrum No 9 Brett Cutbush kicked the ball through but the chasing backs knocked it forward. However, Colchester turned over the subsequent scrum and Cutbush picked it up and dived over for a converted try putting Colchester 7-12 in the lead at half time.
Ten minutes into the second half Old Haberdashers regained the lead when they won a scrum close to the Blacks’ line and the ball was moved to the inside centre who found a gap in the otherwise solid defence and scored a converted try putting them back in the lead 14-12. On came centre George Liversidge to replace Joe Flexman and prop Joe Reid made way for a short time for Toby Hill.
At this point Colchester concentrated on their ‘pick and go’ tactic by the forwards with man after man bludgeoning forward with ball in hand making sure they kept possession. Man-of-the-Match prop Joe Reid was particularly adept at this as were his fellow front row players Charlie Thorogood and Joe McMillan. No 8 Ollie Pickett also stood out as a player who could make the hard yards along with his brothers Liam and Harrison.
Eventually the Blacks had progressed slowly but surely to within five metres of the home try line. From the back of a ruck in a rehearsed move Cutbush, unseen by the opposition, slipped the ball to flanker Danny Whiteman who quickly released Harrison Pickett to crash over the line. Crozier converted and the visitors claimed victory 14-19 to end an excellent contest played in good spirit despite the adverse conditions.