COLCHESTER Rugby Club beat Brentwood 41-38 to keep their London One North promotion hopes alive, writes STEVE WHITEMAN.
In a fast and furious match the Blacks, with the assistance of the wind, dominated the first half only for the visitors to come back at them after the interval and take the lead.
However, a brilliant recovery saw them score twice in the last quarter to claim a bonus point win.
There were a few changes in the squad from the previous game; Andy Goodbourn came in for Alex Burman, Joe Flexman moved from wing to center to take Brett Cutbush’s place and Oly Pickett replaced Haydn Sykes on the flank.
During the match prop Alex Mitchell and utility players Alex Gerard and George Liversidge came off the bench to join the fray and all performed well boosting the scrums and lineouts.
After their kick off, pressure from the Blacks, soon led to a scrum five meters from the Brentwood try line.
A tremendous shove enabled No 8 Harrison Pickett to force his way over for an unconverted try.
The visiting fly half then converted a penalty at the other end to bring the scores close at 5-3.
Later lock Sam Easton retired with a back injury and was replaced by Gerard who, following a successful line out, dashed through to score taking the lead to 12-3.
But Brentwood again came back and the fly-half converted another penalty only for his opposite number, Harry Bureau, to do the same at the other end moments later.
Then, with the score at 15-6, Colchester unleashed their Army players, hooker Sam Butler and wing Conor O’Reilly, whose electric pace and fine inter-passing led to the latter scoring the Blacks’ third try.
With time running out in the first half Brentwood claimed their third penalty before the Blacks executed a fine move by their backs which led to Flexman offloading to wing Matt Parker to dash over and score in the corner, his fourth try in three games.
Turning round 29-9 ahead at the interval Colchester now had to play against a strong breeze.
Brentwood made the most of this advantage and rumbled through to score within five minute and soon afterwards, they also claimed yet another successful penalty.
This was turning into a purple patch for the visitors as, in the next ten minutes, they scored twice to take the lead 29-31.
The Mitchell brothers changed places to refresh the front row and play continued, but Brentwood again pressed forward and from a line out close to the host’s line drove over to score, extending their lead to 29-38.
Colchester were not giving up and, as the match entered the last quarter, man of the match Danny Whiteman, broke away from a ruck on the halfway line to sprint round the defense for a fine try.
This act seemed to galvanise his team and soon scrum half Dave Tonge surged up by the packed clubhouse, who cheered another brilliant solo try, putting the hosts back in the lead by one point.
Bureau converted and the Blacks held out to the end of the match to win.
A number of players were in contention for man of the match, which with a host of players returning from injury, means there will be competition for starting shirts next week.
The coaches comments could be summed up in a simple phrase – job done.
Colchester: Joe McMillan, Sam Butler, James Mitchell, Sam Easton, Any Goodbourn, Oly Pickett, Dan Whiteman (C), Harrison Pickett, Dave Tonge, Harry Bureau, Conor O’Reilly, Adam Thomas, Joe Flexman, Matt Parker, Jonah Varela, Alex Mitchell, Alex Gerard, George Liversidge.