COLCHESTER Rugby Club put a lacklustre first half behind them to complete an ultimately comfortable victory against Westcliff, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

They scored nine tries to secure a 57-15 win and stay on course for promotion as the season approaches the business end.

With six games remaining, Colchester are 19 points clear at the top of Regional 1 South East, though rivals Sudbury have played a game fewer.

Given Colchester were momentarily down to 12 players after three yellow cards, the result was hugely impressive.

It’s worth noting all three yellows were in the back line; the forwards were squeaky clean this week, the scrum and line-out dominant.

The team was led out by Oli Pickett, the latest of Colchester’s home-grown talent to reach 250 appearances.

The headline team-change saw Yuki Takimura back at scrum-half after injury.

Colchester exploded out of the blocks, Luke Rokomoce scorching over from a good kick by Jayden Boshoff in the first minute, the South African converting.

The remainder of the first half was scrappy. Colchester had the bulk of possession and territory, but handling errors and numerous penalties proved costly, the referee increasingly on their case.

First Chris Lewis saw yellow for a high tackle. Boshoff joined him on the sidelines for pulling back a player without the ball.


Scarcely 60 seconds later Jimmy Mpailane was the next miscreant, for a deliberate knock-on.

In the time it took Westcliff to kick the resulting penalty, Lewis returned from the bin to make it 13 v 15, and the superior numbers owed something to prop James Walker’s try which put Westcliff ahead for the only time in the match.

A penalty and line-out drive led to an inevitable Francois Rossouw try to give Colchester a 12-8 lead at the break.

After what head coach Craig Burrows described as “an honest chat” at half-time, the second half was all Colchester as the league leaders dominated, running in seven tries.

Three minutes into the half, Lewis’s break and pass freed Rokomoce for his second and with the all-action Danny Whiteman on for Matt Edison, Mpailane crossed for the bonus point.

Sam Easton was involved as Dylan Read galloped over, and before the hour Whiteman crossed for another.

Mpailane put the game to bed with a long-range seventh, all four tries converted by Boshoff.

With Cam Kerr and Tahi Poasa on for James Mitchell and Oli Pickett, there was time for two more tries as Westcliff tired, the ever-sharp Jonah Varela getting both.

Charlie Nunn’s late score was mere consolation for Westcliff.

“Not our best first half,” said Burrows. “We came back after half-time and showed what we are capable of.

“We got sucked into their game plan today. There were too many balls flying around, too many last passes not going to hand.

"We need to earn the right to go wide. There are things to work on, but nothing major.”

Oli Pickett earned the player-of-the-match award from sponsors Ellisons on his landmark day, while brother Harrison, tireless in the backrow, took the coach’s prize, sponsored by The Lexden Crown.

Colchester travel to ninth-placed Bedford Athletic, this weekend.

The Ravens stayed 12 points clear at the top of Counties 2 after a 36-25 win at Fakenham while the thirds won 43-27 against Stowmarket but the fours lost at Bury.

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