Colchester's brave second-half fightback was not enough to beat a skilful Bury St Edmunds in the Suffolk Cup final.
Bury started as favourites, playing their league rugby two divisions higher than Colchester, plus the final was played at the Suffolk club’s home ground – where they are undefeated this season.
Bury supplemented local talent with several South African players, who played a vital part in the game as their forwards’ counter-rucking turned over possession throughout and their backs’ handling and angled-running stretched the Colchester defence.
Starting poorly, Colchester suffered the after effects of their end-of-season players’ awards party held the previous evening – arranged at the start of the season as an expected post-season event before the cold winter weather led to this later-than-planned finish to the season.
Colchester’s missed tackles helped Bury maintain early pressure, but a slick handling move saw their first try after five minutes, followed by a penalty and a break, which led to another try.
The touch judge had called for a foul against Colchester wing Jon Vine in the lead-up to the second try, but the referee allowed it to stand to the dismay of the Colchester coaches.
A third Bury try came as they opened a 20-0 lead, however, Colchester then rallied as their pack began to disrupt the Bury scrum and forced their defence to retreat.
Wing Kyle Hutchins and full-back Adam Cook went close before Bury killed the ball, earning Colchester a penalty, which was converted by outside half Chris Withers just before half-time.
The second half saw Colchester raise their game and early on, Withers cut through the Bury line and chipped ahead.
Bury’s Mann cynically killed the ball and earned a sin-binning as Withers kicked the penalty.
But a lack of concentration from the restart led to a forward pass on Colchester’s 22 and the Bury number eight picked up from the resulting scrum to crash over for a try.
Bury reciprocated, though, and a poor clearance kick was caught by Colchester prop Ken Dowding, who smashed through tackles to set up a Colchester attack.
The ball was moved wide where colt Matt Barnes’ skilfully-crafted grubber kick was chased in by Addison for a try.
Bury replied with a penalty kick after Colchester were judged not to roll away from a tackle.
Colchester number eight Pat Duffy was then red-carded for punching, however, the loss of a team-mate led to Colchester raising their game.
A Bury attack was held up on the line, with the seven-man pack winning turnover ball from the Bury eight.
Vine made a break of 50 metres and Ken Dowding crossed for a try, but Withers’ conversion rebounded off the post.
Bury had a player-sin-binned, but they had the final word as a kick and chase saw Colchester captain Cook touch down with the Bury winger but the referee awarded Bury the try.