COLCHESTER Rugby Club comfortably negotiated what director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan called “a banana skin” to beat Belsize Park with a bonus point and keep alive their promotion hopes, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

On a beautiful spring day in Regents Park, Colchester ran in seven tries in an impressive 41-26 win to stay fourth in London One North, with three matches to go.

With league leaders Shelford this weekend confirming promotion and Sudbury virtually certain to join them, it’s now a battle between Harpenden, Colchester, Southend and Eton Manor for the third promotion slot.

Even then there is now, bizarrely at this late stage of the season, talk of the fourth-placed side also being promoted as the RFU restructure the league pyramid.

But for O’Riordan, the priority is simply to keep on winning.

“Every game is now a cup final,” he said. “That’s the way we’re looking at it.

“Everyone is back in the flow and it’s starting to click. We’re really bringing it together for the end of the season.”


For the second week running Colchester were without a significant number of first team regulars, but apart from a brief second-half spell during which the hosts threatened a fightback the visitors never looked in trouble.

Colchester were a try up on 12 minutes, captain Dan Whiteman - starting at hooker - took a quick tap penalty and Sam Easton crashed over. Harry Bureau narrowly failed to convert.

Midway through the half Andy Goodbourn scored Colchester’s second, the number 8 picking up off the base of the scrum. Bureau converted to make it 12-0.

With 30 minutes gone, great hands by George Liversidge released wing Harvey Skinner for number three.

Belsize Park finally got on the board with a converted try scored by centre Richie Adeniyi-Jones, but almost immediately a terrific break by man-of-the-match Rory Miller, out-running the opposition, set up fellow lock Alex Burman for the bonus point.


The try was converted by Bureau, as was Colchester’s fifth on the stroke of half-time, Alex Mitchell driving from a quick tap with Dave Tonge stretching over.

Ahead 31-7 at the break after a near-perfect first-half Colchester rung the changes, Jack Buxton replacing Toby Hill with Joe McMillan moving to hooker and Whiteman reverting to the backrow.

But it was Belsize Park who re-started better, former Colchester player Cam Cowley scoring the first of the hosts’ three second-half tries, securing their bonus point and keeping things interesting.

With Matt Barnes on for Bureau, Liversidge - who had a fine game - calmed any Colchester nerves with Colchester’s sixth try, and Easton put the issue beyond doubt with his second score late on, created by a strong run by Goodbourn.


O’Riordan was impressed with how the team adapted to the unusual experience of playing in a public park.

He said: “The whole situation and logistics here could destabilise teams but we’ve done well. I’m really pleased.”

It’s back to Raven Park on Saturday for a match against bottom club Chingford (3pm kick-off), followed by season-defining matches against Eton Manor (away) and Southend (home).

Colchester: Varela, Skinner, Liversidge, Thomas, Flexman, Bureau, Tonge; McMillan, Whiteman, A Mitchell, Miller, Burman, Easton, Hill, Goodbourn. Replacements: Buxton, Cook, Barnes.