By Steve Whiteman


London League division one north

THIS was a match that was too close for comfort as far as Colchester were concerned.

Although they managed to score four converted tries, their opponents Southend came very close with three tries and two penalties in an attritional game that went right up to the wire before the Blacks claimed a bonus point victory.

Colchester got off to an excellent start when lock Alex Burman received Saxons kick off ball and before long the Blacks were awarded a penalty.

Quick thinking by scrum-half Matt Wadling saw him tap and go, passing to his half back partner Brett Cutbush who skipped through the defence to score an early try.

Southend replied soon afterward when they were awarded a penalty on the hosts' 22 and their fly half converted it to bring the score to 7-3.

There followed half an hour of intense attack and defence by both teams with the referee awarding a high number of penalties against both sides.

The Saxons had a heavy pack but the Blacks more than held their own against them in the scrums while both sides' line-outs were secure.

After much nip and tuck, Colchester were awarded a penalty on the halfway line and skipper Danny Whiteman opted for a scrum.

The won ball was moved to inside centre Brock Price who moved the ball left but unfortunately it went into touch.

Saxons' scrum-half attacked from their line-out but was eventually brought down by Colchester's Man-of-the-match number eight Harrison Pickett.

Later Cutbush kicked the ball from the 22 line, the visitors' fullback gathered it, moved it to their number eight who galloped over for a converted try.

From the restart, wing Harry Barton sped down the wing only to be thrown into touch by the defenders.

Colchester were shocked to be 10-7 behind at the interval and came out at the restart determined to set things straight.

There followed a purple patch when they score two quick tries in succession through hooker Rhys Hartley and centre Price putting them 21-10 in the lead.

Saxons responded with a successful penalty kick and then a well-worked try from a line-out when the ball was thrown in and returned to their hooker who sped down the wing to score in the corner.

Alarm bells were sounding in the Colchester camp as the score was now close at 21-18 and the Saxons' attack was looking very threatening.

The coaches rang the changes, bringing substitutes Joe Flexman, Simon Gray and Kevin Tavainavesi on for flanker Ollie Pickett, hooker Hartley and full-back Damien Brambley adding impetus to the team who soon advanced into the visitors' half.

Following a successful line-out, prop James Mitchell battered his way through the defence, fed lock Ollie White who darted through for the bonus point fourth try.

As time ran out Southend 's left wing jinked through to score the final score giving the Saxons a consolation point at the early end of this pulsating Essex derby.