Bury St Edmunds 10 | 46 Colchester Ravens
Our Ravens defy the conditions and the opposition to secure a well-deserved victory, bolstering them up to 9th in the league
After a flurry of snow overnight, it was touch and go whether the Ravens away fixture against Bury St. Edmunds would go ahead; however the Bury Wolfhounds team, having not played a fixture for seven weeks, were keen to proceed, so the game was on in cold and snowy conditions. With the 1st and 3rd XV games not going ahead, the Ravens had a healthy spread of players from throughout the senior sections with Nic Woodhead, Tom Dales, James West, Ben Conner and Alex Harvey coming up from the 3rd team after their tight fought win against Diss 2nd XV last weekend. And at the 11th Hour, Rhys Hartley, Alex Mitchell, Toby Hill and George Liversidge joined the squad after the Fullarians game was postponed.
Receiving the kickoff, Colchester let slip from the start and allowed Bury to go straight onto the attack. However, with defence being the main focus during training the previous week, Bury had nothing that the Ravens couldn’t cope with and even after having most of the ball for the opening 15 minutes they couldn’t find a way through the staunch defensive line. Colchester’s starting tight five consisted of Troy Palmer, Dales, Mitchell, Hill and Captain Andy Goodbourn, and from the first scrum, it was clear this would be a decisive advantage to the Ravens all day. Scrum penalty after scrum penalty, the Ravens monstered their way upfield, when finally the first try of the match was scored. A scrum on the 22 was marched 5 metres out from the line; number eight Dan Hexley went left and offloaded to scrum-half Will Tillett to score – 0-5 to the visitors. The next points were Burys; interestingly deciding to take a shot at goal to make it 3-5 after a quarter of the game was gone. The remainder of the half was mostly Colchester’s, as Bury were reduced to 14 men after consistent offside – their Fly half having a breather on 28 minutes. This gave Colchester the added impetus they needed, with excellent openside flanker West immediately scoring the Ravens second, and Fly Half Adam O’Leary netting the third on 32 minutes. The halftime score of 3-19 reflected the visitor’s complete dominance of the game.
The halftime talk was positive, with the focus on attacking the 12/13 channel and keeping the defensive line speed up to shut down Burys big pack through the middle. George Liversidge came on to replace the hard-working Will Allen, which shifted Julian Chamberlain-Carter from 13 to the left wing; Colchester now having four 6 foot plus backs to hit the ball up. It was the forwards however who scored the first of the half with Hill dotting down on 44 minutes to secure the bonus point after more excellent continuity from the team. With the scrum still providing a solid attacking platform, it was Chamberlain-Carter who made it five tries, going in almost untouched from 30 metres out on the first phase after a slick backline move carved a gaping hole through the Bury midfield. The score was now 3-31 and with another 33 minutes left to play. Bury though, to their credit, were not giving up and managed to produce a good moment on the attack which lead to their first try on 51 minutes making it 10-31. At this point, Will Chapman came on to replace Tillet at scrum-half, and Matt Helxey for Dales on the Flank. Fresh legs gave some added oomph to the breakdown and after more great phase play from both forwards and backs, centre Adam Cook crossed to make it 10-36 on 55 minutes. This then prompted the last substitutions of the match with impressive young hooker Woodhead deserving a rest and being swapped with Hartley, and Harvey giving Conner a breather in the back three. Hartley made an instant impact, his burst through the midfield leaving multiple defenders in his wake, which eventually lead to O’Leary grabbing his second try of the match to push the score past 40 points. The rout was eventually finished off by Hartley, punching through from close range to round off a complete rugby performance from every single man who took to the field. The final score 10-46 to Colchester in what was close to a perfect game of rugby union.