On a raw January day and a muddy and deteriorating pitch, the Men’s 1sts suffered a loss in their first league game of 2016 but produced a promising performance against a side currently sitting in fourth place.
Ealing began strongly despite the long journey and kept Colchester on the back foot for the first few minutes, showing good continuity, reaping reward for their dominance with a penalty converted by Steve Verma, playing on the wing rather than in his usual position of full-back. However, the hosts started to show their strengths, notably quick tempo and powerful rucking and mauling, and took the lead on 14 minutes when their forwards broke through the Ealing defence close to the posts. Playing into a stiff breeze and conceding a succession of penalties, Ealing remained under pressure for the remainder of the first half, despite winning steady line-out possession and stealing opposition ball, and conceded one more try, scored on the right wing and well converted.
Turning around just 11 points down and with the advantage of the wind, Ealing pinned their opponents down in their own half of the field, and the deficit was reduced to just six points when second-row Charles Mansell produced a moment of magic out on the right wing, chipping adroitly over the last line of defence and easily reaching the ball first to finish with aplomb. While the conversion attempt was missed, Ealing were now within one score of pulling off an unexpected victory. However, for the remainder of the game they were unable to make sufficient use of the wind to kick deep and keep the opposition pinned inside their own 22, in part due to a mounting penalty count for a variety of offences. With 67 minutes on the clock, Colchester opted to go for the posts from yet another penalty award and moved two scores ahead. The next score was likely to settle the contest, and it was the men from Essex who secured it with 7 minutes left. Ealing finished much the stronger of the two sides, denying the opposition a fourth try and bonus point, and were held up over the line as the game drew to a close.
This Saturday, 16 January, the Men’s 1sts face another stern test with the visit of Richmond Saxons.