Colchester 1st XV 38 | 22 Ruislip RFC
Colchester come up against an eager Ruislip and despite a few early errors, come away with the bonus point win
On a cold but calm day in Ruislip Colchester overcame their opponents by 6 tries to 4, both teams earning a bonus point in the process. After an indifferent start, the Blacks raised their game in the second half playing to their strengths to secure a hard-fought victory.
The team was largely unchanged lead by Danny Whiteman as captain Liam Pickett was injured and with Toby Hill coming in at No 8 for unwell Brock Price. George Liversidge also joined the squad as a replacement forward which was fortuitous as early on he replaced Hill and later lock Alex Burman who was concussed.
Colchester kicked off down the slope and Ruislip came back at them forcefully in the centre, as they were to do several times only to be stopped by the excellent tackling of centres Tom Dufficy and Kevin Tavainavesi. Although Colchester dominated the set pieces, too often poor handling stopped their progress. After ten minutes of stop/go rugby they finally broke the impasse when they won a lineout on the halfway line, scrum-half Brett Cutbush fed fly half David Higgins who chipped the ball over the onrushing defence into the hands of hooker Dan Brennan who sprinted 30 metres to score the first try.
Not long after this Ruislip won a penalty in Colchester's half and kicked to the corner. A good catch and drive movement at their lineout took them over the line to make the score 5-5. The stalemate in the scores was only broken late in the first half when the Black pack shoved Ruislip back at a scrum near their line and Cutbush linked with Higgins who deftly passed the ball back inside to fullback Harry Barton on the burst to score under the posts bringing the halftime score to 5-12.
Rhys Hartley joined the front row after the interval and Ruislip restarted the match. Soon the ball was moved to Man-of-the-Match prop James Mitchell who shook off several defenders as he motored forward 30 metres before offloading to Dan Brennan who outstripped the defence for his second try.
Now Colchester got their act together and soon flanker Ollie Pickett got the ball to Dufficy who linked with Tavainavesi who claimed the bonus point fourth try under the posts making the score 5-26. Ruislip came back and soon had a score of their own when quick passing got the ball to their left wing to score in the corner.
Colchester soon replied at the other end when double act Whiteman & Cutbush used a rehearsed move to enable wing James Crozier to breach the home defence and score a converted try. Later the Blacks advanced up the slope and drove a scrum forward towards Ruislip's line for Pickett to pounce on the ball but his try was disallowed by the referee. However, Cutbush made sure of the grounding as he dived over at the next scrum.
Ruislip had the last word of this pulsating contest first when their right wing scored out wide and then when their forwards combined to drive over for a bonus point fourth try which, on balance, they deserved after a spirited display of running rugby.