Colchester 14 v Woodbridge Warriors 19
After a close home leg this match promised to be hard and so it turned out. Woodbridge started sharply despite two opening scrums going against them and a clear height and weight disadvantage. A great diagonal run from Colchester fly half Adam Cook took play to the visitors 22 where they elected to scrum when Woodbridge were penalised. The scrum saw No 8 Andrew Goodbourn score from the second attempted push over and set Woodbridge forwards a challenge.
The Warriors attempted to restart the game through their backs with a couple of kick-throughs that tested winger Sam Migan yielding a line-out from which Woodbridge had a couple of charges at the Colchester 22 before conceding a scrum. The Colchester pack with its towering locks Toby Hill and Kieran Payne retained possession and launched their runners with a long kick that unfortunately went dead. Woodbridge, normally confident in its backs, suffered from some indecision and sloppy passing when they did manage a counter but defended well to keep play in midfield. Warrior fly-half JP Hart had a promising run on the left wing only to be blocked after chipping through – Jamie Smith missed the penalty opportunity but Woodbridge attacked again forcing a dead ball and 5m scrum. The home defence held, Goodbourn and flankers Steve McManamon and Patrick Murphy putting in a tough shift of tackling. Centre Julian Chamberlain-Carter had a darting run but the Colchester pack was penalised for pushing too soon to stymie that attack and subsequent runs met similarly obdurate defence from the Warriors, Dan Bond, Capt Tom Stokes and Herb Parsley in particular.
After a period of pressure in the Woodbridge 22 they ran from deep, Hart and Lloyd taking a looping arc down the left wing to challenge the home 22. This was followed by a line-out and penalty that saw Woodbridge set up an attack that saw Plummer, Simon Codd and Cooke carry deep towards the line where Bond assisted prop Ed Banthorp to score a forwards try against the odds.
The second half started with a fairly simple looking try from Colchester’s Cook who finished a well worked move from the kick off to put the hosts ahead. Woodbridge weren’t to be put off and continued to strike wide through Plummer, Parsley, Jamie Smith and Simon Ward. Their line-out worked well and Plummer and Cook worked together well to slow down Colchester scrum ball but poor passing stopped them finishing. Long kicks made possession a bit of a lottery and favoured the visitors who held the defensive line high up field and kept Migan under pressure. Jamie Smith got close but Colchester cleared the first time, gaining in confidence and even choosing the scrum option for penalties. As the third quarter started Woodbridge won a loose ball, passed it wide through Hart to Parsley who offloaded for Lloyd to score. With just a conversion in it Woodbridge held off several moves by the Colchester centres Alex Harvey and Chamberlain-Carter and a dangerous long kick as play loosened up and Cook stole the ball and with Lloyd and Hart exploited the 3 on 1 for Hart to score.
Woodbridge wanted more and very nearly got it from Bond stealing at the ruck and Cook being held up on the line but the close, exciting match ended 14-19.