Eton Manor 19 | 29 Colchester 1st XV
James Crozier's consistency at the kicking tee gives Colchester the edge as they defeat old rivals Eton Manor
Despite having to field three scrum-halves due to the absence of regular centres, Colchester managed to secure a well-worked victory over Essex rivals Eton Manor due, in the main, to the precision kicking of wing James Crozier who notched up nineteen points with his boot.
This victory secures the Blacks third place in the league. The altered team saw Brett Cutbush and Damien Brambley in unfamiliar roles in the centre and Sam Easton returning to No 8. Lewis Williams took the scrum-half berth with Matt Wadling moving to fullback.
Manor kicked off into the wind and before long gave away a penalty that Crozier converted. For fifteen minutes the sides tested each other out with the scrums fairly even but Colchester having the edge in the lineouts. The hosts’ half backs linked well and their right wing and fullback always looked dangerous with the ball.
All credit to Cutbush and Brambley in that the Manor attack never broke through the middle due to their furious defence. Eventually, pressure from the Black forwards led to them gaining yet another successful penalty as Manor infringed. Unhappy at being six-point adrift, Manor came back and worked their way up to Colchester’s try line putting their fullback over for an unconverted try in the corner.
Substitute prop Jerone Awesu took Joe Mac’s place and play continued. Soon the Blacks won a lineout on the opposition 22 and fly-half David Higgins sped through a gap, offloaded to Easton in support who scored a great try under the posts.
With the halftime score at 5-13 Colchester got advice from their coaches and then turned round to face into the wind. From the restart, they stormed into Manor’s half and fast interchange of passes, with skipper Liam Pickett to the fore, led to a maul just short of the try line. A huge surge by the Black pack put lock Joe Colcomb over for a fine forwards’ try.
Manor came back and soon their scrum-half darted laterally across the pitch, fed their outside centre who scored a converted try in the corner. Later hooker Rhys Hartley linked well with jumper Danny Whiteman in a lineout, only for Manor to give away yet another penalty and Crozier took the points.
Lock Rory Miller came off the bench to replace Colcomb and continue the good work in the set pieces. Later Manor’s tighthead prop was yellow carded for not rolling away in a ruck and the penalty was successfully converted. Getting increasingly frustrated, Manor then threw everything at the visitors and their nippy fullback almost crossed the try line but for a brilliant tackle by Crozier.
Later Manor’s No 9 kicked to the corner and they won their lineout. Using the catch and drive tactic they rumbled over the line for one of their locks to claim a converted try. But Crozier had the last word when he converted his fifth penalty to seal the win and ultimately deny Manor the losing bonus point.