COLCHESTER secured a battling win in a game that hung in the balance throughout the match.

They had David Higgins to thank with a late penalty to secure a 21-20 National League Division Three London and South East victory at Westcliff.

Higgins opened the scoring for the visitors with a penalty.

But Westcliff hit back with an unconverted try to take a 5-3 lead.

Colchester went back in front when a great offload from Tom Miller put James Crozier through under the posts for a converted try.

But the game swung again as Westcliff scored a breakaway try to level the scores at 10-10.

Colchester edged ahead when the home side were caught offside and the boot of Higgins put them 13-10 in front.

However, it was the hosts who were leading at half-time after a Colchester kick was charged down and Westcliff scored a converted try.

After the break, a quick penalty for Colchester saw Brett Cutbush cross for an unconverted try in the corner for an 18-17 lead.

But Colchester went down to 14 men when Ollie White was yellow-carded for stamping.

Westcliff then took the lead with a penalty to go in front 20-18.

The hosts then lost a man to the bin after the referee showed a yellow card for hands in the ruck at the try-line.

Higgins then gave Colchester a slim 21-20 lead with a well-taken penalty with time running out.