COLCHESTER Rugby Club returned to winning ways with a 42-14 win against a spirited Leighton Buzzard team to lift them to fourth place in London 1 North, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The six-try win on the road was a big improvement on the previous week’s dispiriting defeat at Harpenden.

But after a solid first half during which Colchester scored three tries and kept Buzzard scoreless, the Blacks went slightly off the ball after the break, leaving director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan with mixed feelings.

He said: “I’m much happier, especially with the first half.

“In the second half we were guilty of going to sleep again and we’ve got to somehow get over that slow start where we lacked a bit of composure.

Colchester started well, fly-half Dan Lewis’s 50/22 kick gaining the visitors a promising attacking line-out.

From the rolling maul, centre Adam Thomas scored the first try which was converted by Lewis.

Thomas was sent to the bin for not moving away two minutes later, but the hosts failed to capitalise, Lewis extending Colchester’s lead with a penalty midway through the half.

On 32 minutes Colchester’s much stronger pack made a complete mess of a Buzzard put-in to their scrum, wing Connor O’Reilly powering over for Colchester’s second try.

Lewis converted and kicked a penalty, and after a short break for the referee to receive treatment, Colchester had their third.

Awarded a penalty on the right, typically-sharp thinking by Lewis saw the fly-half kick to the opposite corner where O’Reilly judged his leap beautifully, touching down for his second.

Lewis missed the tricky conversion but Colchester were 25-nil up and cruising at the break.

Jerone Awesu replaced prop Alex Mitchell and Harry Pickett came on for captain Danny Whiteman who received a cut under his eye.

Not for the first time this season, Colchester started the second half slowly, lock Owen Forsythe crossing for Buzzard’s first points.

But Colchester soon had their bonus point thanks to a typically-strong run down the left by O’Reilly, Thomas crossing for his second.

Buzzard scored their second try through centre Tom Winch as the match fell into a messy phase, not helped by an off-the-ball fracas.

In the resulting all-in melee, yellow cards were shown to Liam Pickett and a Buzzard player.

Order was restored with Colchester’s fifth try, created by a lovely off-load from lock Cameron Cowley to O’Reilly, wing Dave Brennan finishing between the posts, while Whiteman made light of having only one good eye to bundle over for number six late on.

Front-rower Joe McMillan was named man-of-the-match, but O’Riordan was also full of praise for Tom Pool, the ex-Thurrock man making his debut on the openside.

He said: “He’s an old fashioned back-row player. He just does the hard yards. There’s nothing flash about it, but really a great debut”.

Thurrock are next for Colchester at Raven Park on Saturday (3pm).