COLCHESTER Rugby Club made light of truly dreadful conditions to record an impressive eight-try win over Belsize Park and remain on course for promotion, by EDWARD MARRIAGE.

As ever with Colchester, the 50-8 win was created up front, with the home scrum utterly dominant throughout.

But on an afternoon which started cold, wet and windy and steadily deteriorated to positively filthy, credit goes to both sides for the quality of rugby on show.

“The weather was awful but the boys pulled together, one to 18. It was a fantastic performance,” said director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan.


Unquestionably it wasn’t a day for wings, but the prolific Connor O’Reilly scored a brace of tries to take his tally to an impressive ten from five matches, while on the other flank Joe Flexman also chipped in with the final try.

On their first-ever meeting with Colchester, Belsize Park showed flashes of quality, but an under-powered pack and the concession of more than 20 penalties meant the side from central London were always up against it.

Playing with the wind, the visitors took the lead through Will Fairbank’s penalty, but Colchester then laid siege to the opposition line, forcing no fewer than six penalties, opting every time for scrums.

With the referee playing advantage for a further penalty, the ball was passed left to O’Reilly who galloped over. Harry Bureau - starting at fly-half for Dan Lewis, who’s recovering from concussion - kicked a remarkable touch-line conversion into the strengthening gale.


The secomd try owed much to the conditions. Bureau’s kick forward - it looked almost like a drop-goal attempt - caught in the breeze and swirled backwards into the arms of the on-rushing Jonah Varela who touched down between the posts.

Two minutes later Colchester had their third, a lovely break by Alex Burman and pass to Sam Easton released O’Reilly for his second, again converted by Bureau.

Turning round 21-3 up and now playing with the wind, Colchester were never to look back, with the bonus point duly in the bag three minutes after the restart thanks to Oli Pickett’s converted try.

Returning prop James Mitchell added the fifth from marginally further out than normal, while fellow replacement Harry Pickett chipped in with the sixth try as Colchester exerted complete control.

George Liversidge - drafted in late-on after Brett Cutbush pulled out with a foot injury - and Joe Flexman completed the scoring, and while the visitors did finally cross for a try through prop Aaron Shakeshaft it was mere consolation.

O’Riordan had particular praise for coaches’ man-of-the-match Bureau, who ran the game well and kicked ten points on a tricky day for goal-kicking.

“We’re really pleased with how Harry has slotted in. He’s already part of the furniture.”

Officials have confirmed the top three teams in London 1 North will be automatically promoted to the national leagues.

Now consolidated in third, Colchester travel to third-bottom Chingford on Saturday ahead of a tough run-in to the New Year, with matches against Eton Manor and league leaders Sudbury.