COLCHESTER and East Essex have got their Shepherd Neame Essex League campaign off to a winning start.

They enjoyed a resounding 118-run over Loughton at Castle Park, in their first division one game of the season.

Colchester claimed 25 points from the match and not even a rain interruption - which led to an early tea being taken and overs being reduced - could not prevent Darren Eckford's side from claiming a resounding victory.

Colchester chairman Andrew Kennedy said: "The guys have started really well.

"The first XI have won all but one of their games so far.

"We have a blend of youth and experience in the side this year and there's a good mix."

After being put into bat, Colchester got off to a shaky start and found themselves wobbling on 21 for two.

But after that it was pretty much plain sailing for the hosts, thanks to a magnificent 178-run partnership between Julian Russell (92) and Johnny Bassett-Graham (66).

It helped them post a total of 199 for two in their 45 overs and Loughton immediately struggled in reply.

Wickets fell at regular intervals with skipper Eckford leading by example, claiming impressive final figures of 5-29 in his 13-over spell.

Loughton were dismissed for 81 inside 29 overs, as Colchester got the new league season off to a winning start.

Colchester's second team (144-5) drew with Loughton II (154-7), in their rain-affected Second XI division opener.

Louis Morris (3-42) was arguably the pick of the Colchester bowlers, while opener Adnan Hashmi top scored with an unbeaten 50.

Colchester secured six points from the draw while Loughton claimed ten.

Second XI captain Kennedy added: "The second XI got relegated last year into division one, so it would be nice if we could bounce back.

"This year, it would be nice to win more games than we lose."