Colchester 1st XV 32 | 17 Fullerians RFC
In dire conditions, Colchester control the game well to boost them up to third in the league and protect their season-long unbeaten home record
For three-quarters of this tough contest the muddy conditions acted as a great leveller but in the end, Colchester’s superior skills and fitness enabled them to pull ahead in the last quarter to gain a bonus point victory taking them up to third place in the league whilst maintaining their record of being unbeaten at home.
Joe Flexman returned to the team on the wing with Damien Brambley moving to fullback. On the bench prop Alex Mitchell was joined by ex-Colts Lewis Williams and Rory Miller at scrum-half and lock respectively.
Fullerians kicked off, charged down a clearance kick and scored almost immediately. Their fly-half added a conversion to his try and they were 0-7 in the lead. Annoyed by this early setback Colchester came back at the visitors and fly-half Jack White kicked to touch in the corner. Hooker Rhys Hartley linked well with skipper Liam Pickett at the ensuing lineout and sustained pressure from the Black pack won a penalty which wing James Crozier converted to put the Blacks on the scoreboard 3-7.
After another twenty minutes of battling play by both sides in the atrocious conditions, Colchester managed to camp near the visitors’ try line. There were several scrums that Colchester dominated leading to the referee awarding them a penalty try having yellow carded the defending No 7 for repeated infringements.
Five minutes later Brambley put in a long kick for his forwards to chase and their momentum led to flanker Ollie Pickett going over for a converted try in the corner. Just before the interval, the visiting fly-half added to his tally with a successful penalty kick, the sides turning round at 15-10. In the second half, Mitchell came on for Joe Reid at prop joining Miller who had replaced injured No 8 Harrison Pickett.
Dry shirts and a rousing halftime talk by the coaches seemed to lift the Blacks and they soon charged into Fullerians territory. Man-of-the-Match Joe McMillan was in the forefront of this advance as a desperate defender killed the ball enabling Crozier to stroke over the awarded penalty kick. Back came Fullerians and their talented No 10 kicked through the defence for their winger to score a converted try.
The score was almost level now at 18-17 and, encouraged by the home supporters, Colchester again raised their game. Following a dominant scrum on the halfway line, Ollie Pickett broke from the back, fed centres George Liversidge and Jona Crisp with flanker Danny Whiteman in support who put Crozier away for a great score in the corner. Later Crozier almost scored again when he chased down a kick on the opposite wing only for the referee to deem that he had knocked the ball forward.
As time was running out Colchester pressed forward again seeking to score the precious bonus point fourth try. Thankfully White’s clever kick over the opponent’s backs was gathered by Liversidge to score in the corner to complete the victory.