Old Habs travelled to Colchester chasing a rare victory against the perennial table toppers in London North 1. But there was optimism in the ranks and a steely determination especially from the warriors in Sam Fisher and Ian Sanderson, both of whom had risen from the ashes of medical issues to turn out for this crucial game (a tip of the hat to these gentleman).
The first half saw opportunities in attack being limited for Old Habs as they were forced to defend for extensive periods of play, but defend they did with the back row working tirelessly tackling everything that moved, and ultimately keeping the scores locked at 0-0. One of the brief attacking moments came in the final 10 of the half for Habs where a box kick from Gareth Jones, who was enjoying his first start at 9 for the 1st team this year, enabled Habs to apply pressure and James Clark ultimately claimed the bouncing ball before feeding Harry Briffitt who had a chance to execute a 2 on 1 with the length providing support. Unfortunately, as with most warm up drills Harry backed himself and the chance went begging. The momentum swung back and Habs once again found themselves on their own line defending waves of attack, with Colchester’s back row especially proving to be a handful. It looked like the defences had been breached but manful defence out wide from Charlie Johnson and Josh Downie saw the ball held up, however from the resulting scrum and phase play, the iron curtain could hold no more and Habs conceded making the score 7-0 and bringing to a close an enthralling half of intense rugby union.
Habs knew they had to start winning more of the territorial battle and start to build pressure in the right areas of the pitch, inspiration came from the bench in the shape of Harvey who pointed out how narrow Habs had been and how we needed to ensure we threaten them in the wider channels to build more momentum. With this new focus and a change at 10 with Thomas Jackson coming on, Habs started to apply pressure through an increasingly dominant pack. Scrum penalties started to flow and with it field position on the Colchester 5m; keen to press home their advantage the pack safely claimed the throw and “mauled them to the cowsheds” with Harvey Taylor claiming his first score for Habs (that has actually been awarded at least) cutting the Colchester lead to 2. The game started to open up with breaks being made by both sides but both sides let their chances go begging. Then, with 15 on the clock, Habs managed to disrupt a line out on their own 22 but the bouncing ball eluded the defenders and Colchester’s 13 was able to capitalised going in under the sticks making the score 14 – 5. Habs knew they had to get back to the power game and, with Charlie Johnson making a break that they did. Minutes later Habs found themselves on the Colchester line with another line out, could Colchester stop the juggernaut this time? No chance, as Ian Sanderson this time being the man to dot down. It was now 14-12 with 10 mins to go and both sides knew they had a chance to take the win. But it was Colchester who showed the more clinical edge and managed to got another 7 pointer following a series of pick and goes taking the score to 21-12. Time was now slowly ticking away for Habs and the chance of getting the two scores required for the win slipping away, but following yet another powerful maul Habs milked the penalty and the length made no mistake in taking the final score to 21-15 securing the losing BP. Not what Habs wanted but a point deserved, congratulations to our hosts on their victory. Habs go away thinking what if, and knowing that on another day the result would be theirs.
A special thank you to Thomas Marsh who provided excellent TMS style text updates for all the supporters unable to attend, great to see him so available on a Saturday morning for the boys.