COLCHESTER Rugby Club made it two wins from two on a stifling hot day in Cambridgeshire, beating Shelford 30-28 with a bonus point for a hugely satisfying victory…but it could have been very different, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The Blacks fought back from 14 points down early in the second half to edge in front with 15 minutes left. Even then, Shelford had the chance to snatch victory, a penalty just drifting wide with the last kick of the match.

“Magnificent,” was the verdict of Colchester head coach Craig Burrows. “The boys put in a hell of a shift, particularly in these conditions.”

With the temperature nudging mid-30s at pitch-level it was no surprise that it was a cautious start from both sides.


Two Jayden Boshoff penalties gave Colchester a 6-3 lead before the first of the agreed water breaks.

Shelford then seemingly took control with two quick-fire converted tries by centre Marc Koteczky, but Colchester gradually worked their way into the game.

Connor O’Reilly, back in the side along with his army mate Jacob Bodkin, combined well with Jimmy Mpailane, and from the resulting penalty for a high tackle Colchester kicked to the corner.

With hooker Francois Rossouw replaced by Elliot Siddle, Danny Whiteman threw in at the line-out before collecting the ball from the maul and going close.


Play spread left and Mpailane freed his arms to run in the first Colchester try.

Shelford kicked a penalty just before half-time to turn round 20-11 up. At the break, Jerone Awesu replaced Alex Mitchell and Rossouw returned.

Things looked grim for Colchester when Euan Rees’s try within two minutes of the restart put Shelford 25-11 ahead, but the visitors hit back almost immediately.

Good work by Bodkin led to a penalty inside Shelford’s 22. From the resulting line-out Rossouw drove over for his fourth try of the season.


With Yuki Takimura on for Corey Button, Colchester sensed victory. O’Reilly’s storming run into Shelford’s 22 ended with the ball going forward.

But two minutes later, good work by Whiteman found Bodkin who broke two tackles and looped round behind the posts for a well-worked try with Boshoff duly adding the conversion.

Frustratingly, Colchester conceded a penalty to make it 28-23 to Shelford, but a patient attacking move resulted in the ball in the hands of Mpailane.

His lovely line was too much for the Shelford defence. Chris Lewis converted to give Colchester a two-point lead.


Nerves jangled in the closing 15 minutes but Colchester’s defence – so much more effective this season – repelled all-comers until that last minute penalty drama.

Burrows acknowledged the achievement of winning a second successive match at Shelford.

He said: “They are a very good team. A bit of experience pulled us through today.

“We did make it very difficult for ourselves by giving away so many penalties. But hats off to the players today.”


On his first appearance of the season Bodkin deservedly took the player-of-the-match prize, sponsored by The Lexden Crown.

Next up for Colchester is a home match against Sudbury.

Always an eagerly-anticipated local derby, the match has added spice as the sides are first and second in the league after both notched bonus point wins in their first two fixtures.

Colchester: Mpailane, Bodkin, Comonte, Lewis, O’Reilly, Boshoff, Button; A Mitchell, Rossouw, J Mitchell ©, Easton, Edison, Kerr, Whiteman, Read. Reps: Awesu, Takimura, Siddle.