Colchester 1st XV 36 | 7 H.A.C.
Colchester's 2nd half dominance secured them a convincing bonus-point win over fourth place H.A.C.
At their damp Mill Road ground, Colchester played their first-ever game against the Honourable Artillery Company (H.A.C), the Blacks lying second in the league and H.A.C fourth. Honours were fairly even in the first half but Colchester dominated the second half to secure a comfortable bonus-point victory by 6 tries to 1.
The Blacks' squad was similar to the previous week except for the return of flanker Danny Whiteman and Joe Beckett at outside centre. H.A.C kicked off and before long the Blacks won a scrum on their 22 and moved the ball swiftly to fullback Damien Brambley who deftly kicked the ball through the covering defence for winger Dave Brennan to chase and score the first try. Fly-half David Higgins was unsuccessful with the conversion putting the hosts 5 points ahead.
Five minutes later Colchester won a lineout and again moved the ball to Brambley but H.A.C's No 7 dislodged the ball and ran in to score their first and only converted try.
For the next twenty minutes, both teams competed hard in the slippery conditions. Several of the visitors' attacks down the middle were repulsed by the excellent tackling of centre Tom Dufficy who was to be the Man-of-the-Match.
Eventually, scrum-half Brett Cutbush caught an opposition kick, linked with Brambley and then tore down the wing to score a good opportunist try in the corner. The Blacks continued to assert their authority for the rest of the half but H.A.C managed to keep them at bay and the score remained close at 10-7 until halftime.
Colchester's unrelenting pressure began to tell in the second half with hooker Dan Brennan linking well with his forwards in the lineouts and working tirelessly in open play. It was soon after he grubber-kicked the ball through to the visitors' line that the Blacks muscled forward via flankers Ollie Pickett and Whiteman for Cutbush to skip over for his second try putting the score at 17-7.
The coaches made some changes with prop Jerone Awesu on for Alex Mitchell and lock Alex Burman on for Ollie White. As the game progressed there came a marvellous piece of skill from wing James Crozier who kicked over the H.A.C defence, headed the bouncing ball onwards and took it over the try-line, offloading to Beckett to claim the 4th bonus-point score.
Matt Wadling replaced Cutbush and the game resumed. Not giving up the visiting side attacked Colchester's line and over-enthusiastic defence by No 8 Brock Price earned him a yellow card. Despite being down to 14 men the Blacks again pressed forward and pinned H.A.C back in their half and a brilliant interception by wing Dave Brennan saw him dash over for his second try making it 31-7.
All credit to the visitors as they kept competing. Their scrum-half tried box kicks to get his side going forward but twice Burman charged them down, keeping the momentum with Colchester. In almost their last attack of the match, Colchester worked their way forward for prop James Mitchell to crash over for the final try.