Shelford Nomads 35 Colchester Ravens 21
Ravens fight to the final whistle in a tough encounter with Shelford Nomads
The first competitive game of the season saw the Ravens travel up the M11 to take on the Shelford Nomads at their Davey Field. Colchester’s second XV consisted of some old campaigners from previous years with a couple from our 3rd team set up and a host of old Colts making their senior debuts.
On a warm afternoon, it was the Ravens who were under pressure early in the game with Shelford giving Colchester some early tackling practice. Staunch defence by the visitors regained possession for the Black’s and throwing caution to the wind they ran it out, eventually gaining a penalty to march up the pitch. From the resulting pressure Colchester scored the first try when Wayne Munn crashed over. Jon Perry converted making it 0-7 to the Ravens. With ‘Billy’ Smart (flanker) and Wayne (lock/flanker) bravely putting their hand up for front row duties, Colchester struggled against a decent Shelford scrum and for the remainder of the half the Ravens couldn’t respond to the consistent stream of penalties. This continued pressure at scrum time resulted in Shelford camping in the Ravens territory where they scored two quick tries, the second however being a possible knock on before it was touched down. Both tries were converted making the score 14-7 to Shelford.
Throughout the remainder of the first period, Colchester looked a cohesive unit in open play with some bright work coming from a strong 8/9/10 axis of Andy Goodbourn, Jamie Murray (debut) and Ed Parry (debut). Unfortunately the splintering scrum reaped rewards for the home team and they scored two further converted tries to make the half time score 28-7 to Shelford. The focus during the break was to keep moving Shelford around and play Ravens football – run it hard and use the width of the pitch. This also brought the advent of uncontested scrums with Billy coming off, Fawaz Olabooye taking up a position on to the wing and Paul Summerson slotting into the back row.
This parity at set piece saw a marked improvement to the game and allowed the match to ebb and flow much more than in the first stanza. Some enterprising play resulted in Colchester nearly scoring on the right hand wing; unfortunately Summerson lost it over the line from a desperate covering tackle. Approaching the 60-minute mark it was Shelford however who got the first points in the second half, scoring and converting another try, taking it to 35-7. To their Credit the Ravens heads didn’t go down, and in fact this seemed to steel Colchester’s resolve and for the remaining quarter the Ravens dominated the game.
Big busts from the impressive Eli Castle and a returning Ollie White belied the fact it was nearing the end of the game; Shelford rolled on their substitutions but it was Colchester who looked the fresher side in the remaining 10-minutes. Good work on attack allowed young prop Troy Palmer (debut) to score the Ravens second try, again converted by Perry; 35-14 to Shelford. Further pressure and some great handling from both forwards and backs again took Colchester back into Shelford’s 22, with Palmer picking up his second going in untouched beside the posts. Murray dropped a quick conversion with only 2-minutes remaining. Unfortunately the clock wound down on a game that was not only hugely entertaining, but also full of commitment. The final score being 35-21 to Shelford.