COLCHESTER 25 MERSEA ISLAND 20 Suffolk Cup semi-final COLCHESTER edged the honours in this Suffolk Cup semi-final played under floodlights.
Mersea led for 70 minutes before Colchester worked their way back to win this keenly contested local derby game in the final stages in front of a large crowd at Mill Road on Wednesday night.
It was ultimately Mersea’s lack of discipline with two players spending ten minutes each in the sin-bin that cost them the game, as Colchester worked the extra man to good effect and scored their tries when the Islanders were reduced to 14 men.
Playing league rugby a division above their hosts, the Islanders started the stronger.
Mersea’s forwards drove the Colchester pack back into their own 22, creating the platform for a back move that saw centre Tom Milne’s angled cut through at speed for a try.
Islander’s skipper Jon Williams converted for a seven point lead within the first five minutes.
Mersea pinned Colchester back into their half, Williams extending the lead with a 35-metre penalty kick after good pressure from forwards Dave Bredin and Dave Murrell.
Mersea crowned their first-half dominance with a skilful quick passing attack that saw wing Jordan Day rounding off the move with a try for a 15-point lead.
Colchester now rallied, the team melding at last to put together a series of fast paced attacks that caught Mersea on the back foot.
Ill discipline saw a yellow card for Mersea prop Murrell in a move that saw Colchester wing Ed Merry held up on the line. Quick recycled ball found Colchester centre David Higgins clear for a try he converted just before half-time.
The restart saw Colchester return to the attack until a long clearance kick cleared the pressure. Colchester tried to run the ball back inside their 22 but a fumbled pass gifted possession to the Islanders who pounced to set Jordan Day over for his second try.
Colchester kept at the task and persistent offside infringement led to a yellow card for another Mersea forward.
Colchester used the extra man to good advantage, hooker Phil Armitage burrowing over for a close-range try.
Growing with confidence, a hasty Mersea clearance was recovered by Colchester full-back Chris Withers who linked with flanker Ollie White to make ground before flanker Dan Whiteman scorched past the Mersea defence to score behind the posts, Higgins adding the kick to bring Colchester within a point with 15 minutes to go.
Dogged Mersea tackling broke waves of Colchester attacks before David Higgins’ drop goal gave Colchester the a 22-20 lead, adding a penalty kick soon after for a 15 point personal tally with five minutes left.
West Mersea came back and mounted a series of attacks that Colchester just held out to see them through to the final against Bury St Edmunds.
LONDON LEAGUE: division three north east: Braintree v Romford & Gidea Park, Enfield Ignatians v Thurrock, Harlow v Brentwood, Norwich v Mersea Island, Saffron Walden v Chelmsford, Sudbury v Rochford Hundred.
Division four north east: Basildon v Upminster, Beccles v West Norfolk, Billericay v Colchester, Crusaders v Canvey Island, South Woodham Ferrers v Dagenham, Wymondham v Ipswich.
EASTERN COUNTIES LEAGUE: division two: Broadland v Haverhill & District, Dereham v Harwich & Dovercourt, Ipswich YM v Ely, Lakenham Hewett v Southwold, Swaffham v Hadleigh.
ESSEX LEAGUE: division one: Bancroft v Upper Clapton, Campion v Old Brentwoods, Ilford Wanderers v Wanstead, Maldon v Writtle Wanderers, Thames v Clacton.
SUFFOLK LEAGUE: divison one: Mersea Island Rhinos v Felixstowe, Wattisham Warriors v Woodbridge 2nds, Bury St Edmunds Wolvesv Diss Saracens, Mistley v Ipswich RFC Magpies.
Division two: Stowmarket Oaks v Bury St Edmunds Rovers, Mildenhall Eagles v Harwich & Dovercourt 2nds, Clacton Kestrels v Ipswich YM Hawks, Colchester RFC A v Sudbury Talbots.
Division three: Brightlingsea Pirates v Ipswich YM 3rd, University of Essex Cavalry v Sudbury Tigers, Colchester Cavaliers v Felixstowe Saxons, Woodbridge 3rd v Thurston 2nds.