COLCHESTER Rugby Club's highly successful 2023 drew to a close with a 16-7 defeat over the county boundary, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The Blacks lost to a fired-up Sudbury, in what was only their second loss of the season.

The scoreline didn’t flatter the Suffolk side who had clearly prioritised this match after shipping 52 points in a one-sided defeat in the reverse fixture in September.

Sudbury were unrecognisable from that capitulation at Raven Park but Colchester contributed to their own downfall with wayward kicking and uncharacteristic handling errors.

“Even good teams have a bad day,” said head coach Craig Burrows, who praised his players for digging deep to prevent what could have been a heavier defeat.

“Sudbury were the better team.

"We’ll head back to the training field after a well-deserved break for the boys and kick-on again.”


Despite the result, Colchester go into the New Year a healthy 12-points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand over second-placed Letchworth, who are the first opponents of 2024, at Raven Park on January 6th.

“We’re still top of the table so nothing to worry about,” said Burrows, “but we know we’ve got to be a lot better.”

Injury to Yuki Takimura saw Ed Parry make his first appearance of the season at scrum-half while Ross Taylor made a welcome return on the wing after a ten-month layoff, in place of Connor O’Reilly.

Sam Butler started at hooker with Francois Rossouw away.

Sudbury dominated possession and territory in the first half with Colchester scarcely seeing the ball.

One rare opportunity saw Parry make a terrific burst into Sudbury’s half, but the move came to nothing. It was only a matter of time before Sudbury took the lead, influential fly-half Cam Greenhall kicking a penalty from just inside the Colchester half.

The hosts then had a try disallowed for a forward pass.

With Matt Edison on for George Liversidge, Jonah Varela made a promising break, but Sudbury soon doubled their lead through Greenhall’s drop-goal.

Minutes later the hosts had their first try. Hooker Sam Bixby trundled into the danger zone and Greenhall made the telling pass to full-back Austin Beckett.


Colchester were awarded a penalty shortly before the break for a tip-tackle which could easily have resulted in a card. Spurning three points, they kicked to the corner but knocked on in the maul.

Trailing 11-0, Colchester fared better in the second half. Tahi Poasa and Dylan Read replaced Callum Jeffery and Danny Whiteman, but another kicking error from a penalty again proved costly.

The dangerous Beckett had his second try before the hour, and again it was Greenhall who made it with a pinpoint kick-pass.

Good tackles by first Parry and then Jayden Boshoff prevented further tries before Colchester at last got on the board.

With the forward recycling close to the line, James Mitchell off-loaded to Butler who touched down, Boshoff converting.

Further changes made for a messy ending, with Whiteman playing at scrumhalf for the injured Parry and Colchester restricted to a couple of decent breaks by Oli Pickett and Edison.

The roar from the home crowd at the final whistle showed how much this result meant to them.

There was better news for The Ravens who beat Mersea 21-5 at home to stay seven points clear at the top of their league.

Colchester: Mpailane, Taylor, Bodkin, C Lewis, Varela, Boshoff, Parry; Jeffery, Butler, Mitchell ©, Easton, Liversidge, O Pickett, Kerr, Whiteman. Reps: Poasa, Edison, Read.