CONNOR O’Reilly stole the limelight with a dazzling four-try blitz in Colchester’s 80-17 hammering of Thurrock at Raven Park, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The wing’s pace and power was way too much for the visitors, as he took his season tally to eight tries from just four London One North matches.

While O’Reilly and his back division mates stole the glory, Colchester’s most complete performance of the season was created up front, where scrum and line-out worked to near perfection.

Afterwards O’Reilly was quick to deflect praise, crediting his team-mates and particularly fly-half Dan Lewis for his scoring hot-streak.

As well as running the show throughout, Lewis converted eight of the 12 tries on a challengingly-breezy day.

To be picky, the three tries Colchester conceded were a concern, but while they are scoring so freely you won’t hear many complaints from supporters.

Hooker Charlie Thorogood got the ball rolling with the opening try, reacting quickest to Sam Easton’s kick, and three minutes later the same two players were involved before wing Dave Brennan pinned back his ears and scorched to the line for number two.

With flanker Tom Pool off for running repairs, Thurrock’s number 8 Ben Timson barrelled over for a try but that was as close as the visitors got.

On the half hour, the referee awarded Colchester a penalty try after Pool was taken out in the act of scoring. In the resulting flare-up, Pool and Thurrock scrum-half Alex Jones were sent to the bin.

The first of O’Reilly’s tries secured the bonus point, the wing stealing the ball five metres from his own try-line and streaking the length of the pitch to score.

There was time for a second before the break, centres Brett Cutbush and Adam Thomas involved in the build-up before a cute kick by Lewis found O’Reilly in space.

Trailing 31-5 at half-time, Thurrock’s cause was not helped by a yellow card for centre Henry Bird, who flattened Lewis in the opening minute of the second half.

Soon after Colchester were awarded a second penalty try, Pool the victim of a high tackle just before touching down for what would have been a first try for the club, against his former teammates.

Two minutes after coming on for Pool, Oli Pickett was sent to the bin but nothing was stopping O’Reilly who soon scorched in for his third.

Thurrock enjoyed a brief spell of pressure midway through the second half during which hooker Jack Cowman scored.

But the game was up and Colchester turned the screw with further tries for replacement Joe Flexman, Jonah Varela – his first for the club – Harry Pickett with a typical break of the base of the scrum, Danny Whiteman and, inevitably, O’Reilly.

Caolan Watts-Adams scored Thurrock’s third with the final play of the match.

For director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan, after a last couple of weeks where things were “a bit up and down”, it was a day when “things just seemed to click”.

O’Riordan said: “Today it all came together, one to 15. The defence and the discipline was great and that gives the likes of Connor the opportunity to show us what he’s got”.

Colchester stay fourth in the league, with a visit to mid-table Brentwood next Saturday.