COLCHESTER Rugby Club shrugged off their freakishly-long injury list to get back to winning ways with a fine 32-7 victory against a determined Old Haberdashers side, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

On a filthy day of relentless rain and blustery wind, the Blacks went back to basics and after two consecutive London 1 North defeats were rewarded with a bonus point win on the road.

Going into the match Colchester had no fewer than 21 players unavailable, an unprecedented situation which necessitated some hasty recruitment.

Among those thrown straight in was fly-half Harry Bureau. The former Northampton Saints academy player was signed in the week thanks to the cooperation of his club Ipswich YM, and immediately looked at home at the higher level.

“He’s part of the furniture already after 80 minutes,” enthused director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan.

“It’s a hell of an ask to thrown a young man into a new club at ten in the situation we’ve been in for the last couple of weeks and he stepped up to the plate. I think he’s got a great future with us.”

Enjoying the best of the early exchanges, Colchester took the lead through Bureau’s penalty.

With near-parity in the scrum, both sides had their chances but it was Colchester who scored the first try on 22 minutes.

From an attacking line-out on the Habs 22, the ball was recycled through the forwards with Olly Pickett storming to the line. Bureau’s conversation went over via the post.

The hosts’ problems increased with the loss of two players following a clash of heads, and minutes later Colchester increased their lead, good work by blindside Sam Easton led to Olly Pickett crossing for his second try. Bureau added the conversion.

The only downside for Colchester came just before half-time when lock Alex Burman was knocked out, ending his match. It’s another blow for a selfless player who has had no luck with injuries.

Habs then scored their only points of the day, Tom Jackson converting Josh Seabrook’s well-taken try, making it 17-7 to Colchester at half-time.

Soon after the break Bureau came close with a monster penalty attempt from 45 metres but hit the target from closer range minutes later.

By now Colchester were in the ascendancy and were narrowly denied a spectacular try from a kick-ahead and chase by speedster full-back Jordan Milburn.

On 70 minutes Colchester got their third in a move started deep inside their own half. A good break by returning club captain Dan Whiteman was finished by man-of-the-match Easton.

Pressing for the bonus point try in added time, Harry Pickett broke from the scrum to feed Andy Dixon and wing Joe Flexman was on hand to score.

Bureau’s conversion made it 12 points on his debut.

After a horrible couple of weeks, O’Riordan was a happy man.

He said: “Today was a real lesson in playing structured, basic rugby in tough conditions, so I’m over the moon”.

Colchester go fifth in the league and now have a week’s break before hosting bottom club Norwich, at Raven Park.