Chichester gained a bonus-point 40-10 with a confident performance in a vital National three London south east game at Oaklands Park.
They were sharper in attack and stronger in defence. The Essex men matched them in the set pieces but found them too hot in open play.
Chi had an excellent first half with four tries and although hampered by injuries in a rather scrappy second 40 minutes, 14 more points were bagged.
Henry Anscombe converted superbly five out of six conversions, four of them from the touchline. Blues are now just four points away from getting out of the bottom three and are playing with renewed team spirit.A lot will be riding on Saturday’s home match against Guernsey.
Jack Maslen is still injured and Jak Evans was unavailable. Danny Gray came on to the bench. It was a very dull day with threat of rain.
Chi had been well prepared by head coach Rob Lawrence to face equally well-motivated opponents.
Colchester received the kick-off and went to Chi’s 22 but were greeted by a strong counter-attack with the home forwards and backs combining across the pitch.
Penalty and a drive lineout put hooker Mark Giddings over in the right corner after three minutes. Chi lost their full-back Taff Davies with a foot injury, Richard Adams moved to replace him and Gray ran on at fly-half.
Colchester missed a long penalty kick before the Chi backs passed swiftly to the left wing. A scrum was awarded 20 metres from the try line, Chris Johnson moved his launchpad to inside centre.
The inch-perfect pass from Gray was taken at top speed, Johnson bouncing his marker and hurtling across to score near the posts. It was converted for a 12-0 lead.
Colchester had five minutes of pressure when they showed good hands from ruck and maul, but were tackled and Don Farmer made his presence felt with a big hit. Harry Seaman cleared with a big touch kick.
Anscombe probed with his trusty boot but Colchester’s impressive winger Brambley caught and replied competently. Chi broke through at pace and Seaman ran hard towards the right corner, the move switching to the other side for the pack to drive on and Nick Blount stretched his long frame over for the third try, converted.
A Colchester thrust was stopped dead by a thundering Alex Grace tackle. Blues went back and crisp handling sent outside centre Rhys Thompson on his way.
He drew a last defender and passed outside for winger Matt Woodhouse to finish strongly at the corner – this was the bonus-point fourth try and another conversion meant it was 26-0.
Colchester forced two penalties which took them into the home 22 where they scrummed and mauled. A clever kick to Vultures’ Corner was snatched by the onrushing Crozier and touched down at the flag. Difficult conversion missed so it was 26-5 at the break.
The second period was even for a while and Colchester found their attempts to get back into the game frustrated by Chi’s covering and keen tackling.
Adams cleared and Chi scrummed to set up the next score. Johnson picked up and offloaded to Gray to whip the ball left and on to Seaman who had a lot to do but used his strength to get past two tackles and dive over at Vultures. It was converted.
Play became attritional and scrappy, not helped by the referee delaying scrum put-ins to spot the first offender. Eventually a Chi prop was sent to the sin-bin.
Giddings and Farmer went off with knocks and front-row replacement Shepherd had a back problem, but the 14 Blues soldiered on.
Grace treated the crowd with another big tackle as Colchester strove for consolation and finally got it with slick movement to the left wing and a deserved try at the corner by speedy Brambley – 33-10.
Chi roared again and pounded the try line with Colchester on the barricades. Aaron Davies, Tom Belcher and Nick Blount were all nearly over but the ball went loose and the chance lost.
Anscombe and Gray fed Thompson again and he made a searing break. He should have backed himself but opted to pass to the right winger and found touch instead.
But next time from a tap penalty and quick ball his pass to Woodhouse was good and the winger scored his second try. The conversion took the score to 40-10.
Jack Bentall showed up well in the lineout and with his tackling as Colchester went close in the last minute.
This was Chi’s second-biggest winning margin in this tough league.
Saturday brings the big test against the Islanders from Guernsey, who hammered Guildford. All support needed and appreciated by the players. It is likely to be close and exciting – surely better than Christmas shopping. Kick-off is 2pm – get there early.
Chichester: Deavall, Giddings, Belcher, A Davies, Blount, Grace, Bentall, Johnson, Anscombe, Adams, Woodhouse, Farmer, Thompson, Seaman, T Davies, Shepherd, Dickin, Gray.
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