COLCHESTER Rugby Club gained revenge for their unexpected defeat at Amersham and Chiltern earlier in the season to revive their promotion hopes on a wet and windy day at Raven Park, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

In a classic game of two halves, Colchester were fortunate to be ahead by a point at half-time, but were much the better side in the second half, running out 34-17 winners, securing a bonus point with the final play of the match.

While delighted with the win, director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan was concerned by the sluggish start which he partly attributed to a month-long lay-off caused by postponements and the Christmas break.

“We’ve really got to get into our mind-set for this half of the season the need to play for 80 minutes,” said O’Riordan, who hinted that a few blunt words were exchanged at half-time.

Not for the first time this season, Colchester fielded a much-changed team but unusually it was a Pickett-free line-up, with all three brothers enjoying a weekend on the piste.

Harry Bureau was deservedly named sponsors’ man-of-the-match, the fly-half scoring two tries, kicking a further 14 points and generally running affairs with increasing authority.

With a stiff breeze at their backs, Amersham were the stronger side in a scrappy first half, playing the conditions well, kicking to the corners and putting Colchester under pressure.

Deprived of possession and territory, Colchester could easily have conceded more than Jacques O’Driscoll’s try on 15 minutes, Bureau’s two penalties giving the hosts a 6-5 lead at the interval.

Ten minutes into the second half, Colchester were 6-12 down after prop Douglas McGregor-Smith scored Amersham’s second try and the hosts were urgently in need of a change of fortune.

It duly came as Bureau smartly intercepted a wayward pass to gallop over for their first try, which he converted.

Lock Sam Easton left the field with a hamstring strain to be replaced by debutant Haydn Sykes, while Jack Buxton replaced prop Alex Mitchell.

As Amersham tried to play out of their own 22, the ball went lose and centre Adam Thomas off-loaded to hooker Sam Butler who ran in for Colchester’s second try.

Harvey Skinner made a welcome return to first team action off the bench in place of Toby Eaton.

Colchester were now in the ascendancy and soon had their third thanks to a fine break by Dan Whiteman from a scrum deep in their own half.

The skipper passed to Sykes, whose startling turn of speed took him over down the left.

“He does that week-in, week-out in training - I’m really proud of him,” said O’Riordan, who coached Sykes at St Joseph’s College, along with his older brother Marshall who made his debut for Scotland in October.

Amersham centre Robert Hughes scored to make it 27-17, but Colchester were now in search of the bonus point try which duly came through Bureau after fine work by the tireless Connor O’Reilly.

Colchester climb to fourth in London One North with a game in hand, but have a stiff challenge next - away to second-placed Shelford on Saturday.

“It’s a biggie,” said O’Riordan. “But we’re back in business now and we know how to play the next half of the season.”