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‘Monumental’ defence is the foundation for Shelford’s success over Colchester in London League 1N



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“Monumental” was the description Will Cotterill used to sum up Shelford’s defensive effort in their 14-8 win over Colchester in London League 1N.

The director of rugby captured the feeling of most of those at the Davey Field last Saturday when the hosts posted a real backs-to-the-wall effort to clinch a vital victory in the chase for promotion.

Having put themselves in second place before the Christmas break, Shelford knew that it was a tough start to the new year with clashes against Harpenden and Colchester, two sides hot on their heels in the top five.

Shelford negotiated the first hurdle, with a 29-17 win over Harpenden, but the obstacle posed by Colchester was far sterner.

The Essex side were intent on running into contact to make it a battle of the breakdown, presumably to draw in enough players before freeing their backs. However, they had maybe not reckoned on being met with a similar force from Shelford.

“We were expecting to play a really tight game, and I think they used their edges a lot better than we were expecting but with our defensive communication, we linked really well and shut them down as well as we could,” said Shelford tight-head prop Dan Barber.

“They really liked hitting hard. We were wise to it, and absorbed it well. It was a really physical game. We’ve definitely worked hard for that win.

“One of our aims going into it was recently we’ve been letting points in and then coming back and staying ahead. A really key thing for us is that we went ahead and stayed ahead to weather a lot of pressure to stay ahead throughout the whole game.

“It’s a real positive for the whole squad.”

Miles Huppatz in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54309931)
Miles Huppatz in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54309931)

Barber is in his first season with Shelford, linking up with the club after relocating to the area.

“I’m absolutely loving it here,” he said. “I’ve slotted right in, the boys have been really welcoming and it’s an absolute privilege to pull on the jersey every week.”

The ideal finish to a first season would be promotion, and Barber is determined to do all he can to help them achieve that goal.

“There is a lot of pressure on the squad,” he said.

“We’ve built a reputation and name for ourselves. We’re building a bit of a fortress at home. Teams are going to have a real challenge coming here towards the end of the season.”

Jack Brosnan in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54310063)
Jack Brosnan in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54310063)

It was a flying start on their home turf that put down the platform for the win over Colchester.

Jack Brosnan put in Louie Tang, who danced past three defenders to touch down after 1min 11sec.

They then shut up shop to keep the visitors at bay for the rest of the half.

The roles were then reversed 2min and 22sec after the break, as Tang found Brosnan on a support line to touch down. Lewis Cracknell kicked both conversions.

Colchester were able to land a penalty and a try, but nothing else thanks to the hosts’ defence.

Matt Gregerson in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54309911)
Matt Gregerson in action for Shelford against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris (54309911)

“It’s a win that we had to get, and the boys worked really hard for it,” said Cotterill.

“It was a game of attack versus defence really. Apart from the two amazing tries we scored in the early minutes of both halves, the rest of the halves we spent on the backfoot defending and our defence was monumental.”

He added: “The goal was Harpenden and Colchester were two big games in the new year, fourth and fifth in the league, we had to win them to stay in the fight at the top end. To get the two wins is massive, and big for us from a momentum point of view.”

Shelford are away to Thurrock this Saturday (January 22).



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