COLCHESTER Rugby Club maintained their winning run but were pushed all the way by a determined Tring side, eventually scoring five tries in a 35-13 victory, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

The match, postponed from last month, was moved from Tring’s home ground which had been frost-bound all week to the artificial pitch at Aylesbury.

The win takes Colchester 19 points clear at the top of Regional 1 South East although they have played a game more than closest rivals Sudbury.

While acknowledging the slightly scrappy nature of the performance, head coach Craig Burrows was a happy man.

“Defensively we did well, attacking-wise we just need to look at our shape and our depth. They’re small fixes but it’s another win for us. The squad’s looking very positive.”

Injuries and illness led to several changes, with Jimmy Mpailane starting at centre and Luke Rokomoce making his first appearance in 11 months on the wing. Ed Parry, starting at scrum-half, had a fine game.

In contrast to the previous week when Colchester leaked two early tries, the team were 14-3 up in the blink of an eye.

Playing into an icy breeze, Tring took the lead through a penalty but the restart kick bounced perfectly for Rokomoce, and the flying Fijian was under the posts.

If the first was down to back-line opportunism, the second was all about good old fashioned forward power.

Colchester’s front row made a mess of a Tring scrum, Cam Kerr pinching the ball at the base to run in. Both tries were converted by Jayden Boschoff.

Tring worked their way into the match, spending ten minutes camped in the Colchester 22.

The visitors’ defence held firm, but they were conceding too many penalties and when Tahi Poasa was shown the obligatory “team yellow”, Tring seemed certain to take advantage.

But to their frustration, wayward passing handed possession to Mpailane who doesn’t spurn such gifts. Gathering his own kick, he sprinted 65 metres to score.

The bonus point try, too, was partly down to Tring profligacy but also sharp thinking by Jonah Varela.

A poor kick went straight to Boshoff who lofted it back with interest. Varela judged the bounce beautifully to score.

Leading 28-3 at the break and with Joe McMillan on for Poasa, Colchester were again in trouble with the referee, captain James Mitchell seeing yellow as the penalty count escalated.

This time Tring made superior numbers count, Ben Hogan converting Ed Stanford’s try, then kicking a penalty to make it 23-13.

By now Dylan Read was on for his first appearance since December in place of Harrison Pickett while George Liversidge replaced Matt Edison.

Any doubt about the outcome was banished with Colchester’s fifth which yet again stemmed from a Tring mistake, Mpailane fielding a sliced kick to run in from half-way. Boshoff made it five out of five from the tee.

Rokomoce was named coach’s player-of-the-match, sponsored by The Lexden Crown.

“Roko’s always a threat anywhere on the field,” said Burrows. “The Fijians always like ball-in-hand and we should have got it to him more.”

Next up for Colchester is a home match against bottom club Westcliff (Saturday 3pm).

The Ravens stay top of their league after a home walk over against Cottenham. Colchester threes lost 34-12 to Mistley.

Colchester: Boshoff, Varela, Mpailane, Blakemore, Rokomoce, Lewis, Parry; Poasa, Rossouw, Mitchell ©, Easton, O Pickett, Kerr, H Pickett. Reps: McMillan, Read, Liversidge.