COLCHESTER Rugby Club extended their excellent winning run to seven matches but this hard-fought 31-13 win over Bedford Athletic came with collateral damage, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

Centre Hamish Comonte, tireless in defence and attack this season, is set for a lay-off after breaking his jaw making a tackle late in the match.

Colchester played most of the game a man down after prop Callum Jeffery received a red card on the half-hour for what was adjudged a head-on-head tackle.

Then three yellow cards meant the Blacks were reduced to 13 for most of the second half, making their efforts to keep Bedford largely at bay even more creditable.

An emotional day started with a minute’s applause for senior rugby chairman Jon Smith, whose death earlier in the week led to a flood of tributes from across the game.


Colchester were ahead inside five minutes. From a line-out Jimmy Mpailane broke and off-loaded to Jacob Bodkin, who did the rest.

After two Bedford penalties went wide, Colchester soon had their second.

A good break by Mpailane, taken on by Cam Kerr, resulted in a yellow card for a Bedford player and a penalty which Jayden Boshoff kicked to the corner. Kerr touched down from the maul.

Jeffery’s collision with Bedford’s flanker was wholly unintentional, but the referee decreed there was nothing to mitigate it down from red.

Colchester had to shuffle the deck. Dylan Read was sacrificed as Tahi Poasa came into the front row and Bedford soon crossed for their first points through Tom Allwright’s try.


But Colchester had their third before half-time, Chris Lewis charging down a clearance kick and Danny Whiteman crossing.

The Blacks turned round 17-5 up.

A penalty kept the visitors in touch, and Colchester were soon down to 13 as Whiteman was binned for a deliberate knock-on.

It didn’t stop Colchester banking the bonus point minutes later, Francois Rossouw scoring from a maul for the 12th time this season.

With Whiteman’s time on the naughty step up and Oli Pickett preparing to come on his place, Colchester lost Lewis to the bin for an illegal tackle close to their try-line.


Colchester somehow repelled Bedford’s repeated attacks, but the drama wasn’t over. As Lewis returned to the field, Oli Pickett saw yellow keeping Colchester down to 13.

The superior numbers finally told as Bedford got their second try through Ed Parker, but then Harrison Pickett, just on for Sam Easton, finished off a move involving forwards and backs for Colchester’s fifth. Boshoff kicked his third conversion.

“We made it difficult for ourselves losing Callum with a red early in the first half,” said head coach Craig Burrows.

“But I’m very proud of how the boys stepped up in defence.”


Burrows said the players had spoken about wanting to win the game for Jon Smith.

He said: “Jon would always have wanted us to get the five points and a good win. The boys were all wanting to do it for Jon.”

Rossouw was named player-of-the-match by sponsors Whitehall while Kerr took the coach’s award, sponsored by The Lexden Crown.

After a week off, Colchester return to action on Saturday week at second-placed Harpenden.

The Ravens also stay top of their league after a 51-13 win over Fakenham.

Colchester fours beat Bury 48-0 but the threes lost at Stowmarket.

Colchester: Mpailane, Bodkin, Comonte, Lewis, Varela, Boshoff, Button; Jeffery, Rossouw, J Mitchell, Easton, Edison, Kerr, Whiteman. Reps: Poasa, O Pickett, H Pickett.