Hertford 47 | 33 Colchester Ravens
A second half surge sees the Ravens come close to top-of-the-table Hertford
After a two week break, Colchester’s 2nd XV hit the road to Hertfordshire to take on Hertford RFC. Hertford had been in imperious form this term, sitting atop of the league with an impressive points tally, most impressively their ‘against’ total which averaged less than 11 points a game.
With Colchester kicking off into a very chilly wind, Hertford took control from the off to score their first try of the match after a horrible bounce from a kick through wrong footed the covering defence and popped up into their wingers arms. From the restart, Hertford scored immediately, and only a couple of minutes later dotted down for their third to extend the lead to 19-0 after only 6 minutes. Colchester, shocked and without even touching the ball, had to regroup to stop the one way traffic with Hertford’s off-loading game doing the damage through the middle of the field. For the next handful of minutes the visitors gained some parity and by finally getting into their groove managed to score their first through inside centre Adam Cook. Without the conversion the score was pulled back to 19-5. Again the battle ensued, and with the Ravens scrum dominating they managed to gather more possession and territory and keep the home team honest. However it was Hertford who scored next, dotting down again on 17 minutes; the converted try stretching the score to 26-5. With Hertford’s big experienced pack breaking tackles, Colchester needed to again regroup, this time looking to put more pressure on the scrum. On 30 minutes and with a put in only five metres out from the Hertford line, Colchester turned the home sides pack inside-out and back into their own in-goal, Number 8 and Captain Andy Goodbourn dropping on the ball for a pushover try. Fly Half Jon Perry converted for a 26-5 score. Unfortunately the remaining minutes of the half saw Hertford run in two more tries, taking the half time score to 40-12.
The second half started with Colchester now running up hill on what was a firm but undulating pitch. For the entire third quarter, both teams went hammer-and-tongs, with Colchester’s tackling vastly improved form the first half and Hertford’s team running out of ideas. Eventually the Colchester pressure told and Hertford had their first of three players yellow carded for persistent cynicism at the breakdown. From the penalty the Ravens went deep into the Hertford 22 and although the home side’s defence stood, another player was sent to the bin. All credit to the Hertford defence they managed to keep Colchester scoreless, and regather possession. However, with a renewed attitude and their line speed keeping Hertford at bay, Colchester scored their third when substitute lock Ben Harfield intercepted a midfield pass to run in under the posts. With 18 minutes remaining the score stood at 40-19. Now back to 14 men, Hertford did not give up and were the next to score, their only try of the second half coming on 67 minutes to push the lead out to 47-19. Colchester were not to be undone with lock-cum-flanker Pat Murphy being on the end of the chain to out flank Hertford’s right hand defence for the fourth, and bonus point try. Perry again converted an excellent goal from wide left and the score seemed a more respectable 47-26. Hertford were back to a full complement, but not for long, when again a cynical foul resulted in another man being sent off. On the last play of the match, Colchester again scored on a left sided overlap, Hooker Tom Jepson providing flanker Matt Hexley with the pass to race around and score the Ravens fifth. Jepson knocked over the conversion to end a match that truly was a game of two halves. The final score 47-33 to Hertford.