COLCHESTER Rugby Club got back to winning ways with a 34-19 bonus point victory, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

But they were made to work hard in their London League One North clash by an obdurate Chingford side.

Having been blown off course - almost literally - at run-away leaders North Walsham last week, this was a largely satisfying return to form for the Blacks, who out-scored the visitors by five tries to one.

Colchester forwards coach Lee Soper said they had worked to turn round the players’ confidence after the heavy defeat in Norfolk.

“It was a case of finding something to get the boys’ spark back again,” he said.

With Walsham certainties for automatic promotion, the battle is now on for the remaining play-off spot.

Colchester stay third, two points behind Old Haberdashers who they visit on Saturday for a match which now takes on huge significance.

Colchester’s starting XV showed three changes from last week but they were forced into further reorganisation inside three minutes when Jona Crisp limped off with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Sean Bundy.

Despite playing into a blustery wind, Colchester soon had Chingford pinned in their own half and forced into conceding penalties.

From the fourth of these, Colchester kicked for a line-out but as the forwards rumbled over the referee awarded a penalty try for pulling down. Openside Jack Mayes was shown a yellow card.

Chingford’s outside half Scott Meakin kicked a penalty but on the half-hour Colchester had their second try.

When Chingford messed up a scrum deep in Colchester territory, Brett Cutbush fed Dan Whiteman whose turn of speed took him to within a couple of metres of the line. James Crozier was on his shoulder to finish the job.

Meakin kicked two further penalties to make the half-time score 12-9, but within 15 seconds of the restart Colchester had their third.

Crozier did really well to scoop up the restart, passed to Whiteman who off-loaded to hooker Sam Butler to finish under the posts. David Higgins converted.

Colchester bagged the bonus point minutes later, a superb tackle by Liam Pickett forcing the turnover. Slick passing by Joe Flexman and Cutbush led to a thoroughly deserved try for captain Whiteman.

A snappily-taken Meakin drop goal made it 24-12, but another spell of Colchester pressure soon led to try number five. Higgins dummied to leave two defenders flat-footed, and was over.

Higgins converted his try and kicked a further penalty to make it 34-12, but then things got messy.

Liam Pickett was shown a yellow card for a high tackle and within minutes was joined in the sin bin by brother Harrison for a no-arms tackle.

Taking advantage of their two man advantage, centre Dan Sanders raced in for Chingford’s consolation try.

Soper felt Colchester’s defence won the game.

He added: “Full credit to the guys. I think three or four of our tries came from us turning them over and then us counter-attacking.”

Returning lock Rory Miller was named Colchester coaches’ man-of-the-match while the sponsors’ award went to scrum-half Brett Cutbush.