A LAST-GASP converted try completed a remarkable comeback victory for Colchester Rugby Club over Letchworth, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The Blacks were trailing by 12 points on the hour and seemingly in danger of a third defeat of the season.

But Jonah Varela’s late score plus, crucially, a touch-line conversion from the nerveless Jayden Boshoff, secured a nail-biting 38-36 win against an excellent Letchworth side who had started the day second in Regional 1 South East.

The result leaves Colchester 14 points clear at the top of the league with nine matches remaining, and just one team promoted to National 2 come April.

The day began with captain James Mitchell and George Liversidge leading the team out on their 250th and 100th appearances respectively, and a debut at inside centre for Will Blakemore, on loan from Chinnor.

Colchester started the quicker, Jacob Bodkin scoring after good work from Connor O’Reilly who latched on to a beautifully weighted Corey Button kick.


Letchworth’s outstanding flyhalf Josh Sharp kicked a penalty before Oli Pickett drove over from a line-out for Colchester’s second try after a series of penalties.

But Letchworth deservedly led 17-12 at half-time thanks to converted tries from full-back Charlie Parkhurst and Sharp and could easily have had a third but were held up over the line.

The hosts had plenty to ponder at the break.

Repeated penalties early in the second half led to Francois Rossouw levelling the scores at 17-17, the ball finding the hooker on the wing for his 19th try of the season.

With Danny Whiteman on for Liversidge, the visitors retook the lead through Liam Fitts, but again Colchester drew level, Chris Lewis busting through heavy traffic to score his first try for the club.


Injury to Bodkin proved significant, as while Colchester re-arranged their midfield Letchworth ran in two tries down the left through Chris Gibbs and Parkhouse to put the visitors 36-24 ahead and seemingly in control.

But Colchester are the masters of the late comeback, and slick passing lead to Jimmy Mpailane gliding over. With Boshoff converting, the hosts sniffed blood.

Colchester were convinced Mitchell scored but the referee ruled it had been held up.

No matter – with time ticking away two passes found Varela who galloped over in the left corner to level the scores.

The conversion was certainly the toughest of the game. Boshoff nailed it, though the South African admitted he wasn’t sure it was over until he heard the crowd roar.

On the downside, Callum Jeffery ended the day on crutches, a calf injury likely to keep the prop out for a few weeks.

“It was a hell of a comeback from two scores down,” said head coach Craig Burrows. “It was a hell of a shift from the players, and what a kick from Jayden coming off the bench.

“These boys never say die. They do leave it very late, but I have faith in this team.”

Boshoff was named coach’s player-of-the-match, winning a night out at The Lexden Crown, while skipper Mitchell took the award from sponsors Mini Cab Services.

Colchester visit Old Northamptonians for the first of two consecutive away matches, on Saturday.

The Ravens stayed seven points clear at the top of their league with a 46-5 win over Sudbury.

Colchester threes beat Ipswich YM 67-7 but the fours lost at Kelvedon.

Colchester: Mpailane, O’Reilly, Bodkin, Blakemore, Varela, Lewis, Button; McMillan, Rossouw, Mitchell ©, Easton, Liversidge, O Pickett, Kerr, Edison. Reps: Jeffery, Whiteman, Boshoff.