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Shelford dig deep in defence to clinch victory over Colchester in London League 1N

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Louie Tang touched down for Shelford in the second minute against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris
Louie Tang touched down for Shelford in the second minute against Colchester. Picture: Mike Harris

Shelford produced a display oozing with determination and resilience to secure a 14-8 win over Colchester in London League 1N.

How much a team is prepared to dig deep for one another can be a determining feature in the character of a squad.

If that is so, then the defensive performance at the Davey Field just shows what it means to be a Peacock this season.

There was no time for flair or showboating against a hard-edged Colchester, who seemed to have an appetite for contact and a battle.

Turning everything into a contest at the breakdown may work against some teams, but on this day they met their match against a Shelford side not afraid to put their bodies on the line.

It felt at times like wave after wave of Colchester attacks as they went for the battering ram approach to try to pierce the line, yet they just could not get through the hosts’ battlements.

There will no doubt be some aching limbs among the Shelford forwards, in particular, tomorrow as in an attritional match, they spent most of it being hit at force by the visitors.

For all that though, there was always a sense that Shelford were in control of the game.

There was no air of panic about what they did, or anything rushed in an attempt just to clear their lines - it felt like they had clear and concise decision making, with calm heads.

They had to contend with a rising penalty count, with the feeling that they had got the wrong side of the referee early on - he awarded a yellow card to Harry Rogerson for what seemed like a team offence, but was only four penalties into the game after 20 minutes - and could never get back on the right side of the official.

It meant that any lapse with go-forward ball, such as holding on too long in the tackle, soon had them on the back foot again.

But their defensive efforts were keeping Colchester away from the red zone of the 22 and, with the visitors unable to change their point of attack, it felt controlled from Shelford.

They did not have as much possession as they would have liked, but this was in no small part down to the abrasiveness of Colchester in the tackle area, sending in multiple numbers and preventing Shelford getting clean ball.

With no clean or quick possession, the opportunity to be much of an attacking force was limited, and that is why the defensive side of the game was so vital.

The times that mattered were 1.11 and 2.22 - they were the minutes and seconds into each half in which Shelford did cross the try line.

With not a minute on the clock, Tom James passed to Jack Brosnan, who went one more pass wide to Louie Tang, and he raced clear of three tackles to touch down for Shelford. Lewis Cracknell landed the conversion.

It then became a backs-to-the-wall job.

Rogerson was sin-binned in the 20th minute, and Colchester fly-half Harry Bureau missed two relatively straightforward penalties in front of the posts but, that said, the visitors only broke the line once, and the cover defence was quickly across to snuff out the danger.

The second half was only 2min 22sec old when Shelford did it again.

Having moved play along the line, Jack Biard made the incisive carry to pass to Tang on the wing, and he was supported by a great running line from Brosnan, who touched down. Cracknell kicked the conversion to make it 14-0.

Colchester got themselves on the board through Bureau penalty in the 59th minute, and then missed another good chance from the tee to reduce the arrears further in the 67th minute.

Colchester did get a try back in the 70th minute thanks to an incisive burst of pace from Connor O’Reilly, who got to his feet again quickly after being tackled to touch down.

However, the defensive masterclass returned as Shelford saw out close to 20 more minutes with relative ease to make it four wins in a row and nine matches unbeaten.

Shelford: Brosnan; Chiwanga, Board, Cracknell, Tang; James, Gould; Taylor, Huppatz, Barber, Brooks, Freer, Buchanan, Rogerson, Bates.

Replacements: Gregerson, Dunnett, Baker.

Colchester: Varela; Flexman, Eaton, Thomas, O’Reilly; Bureau, Cutbush; Bureau, Cutbush; McMillan, Butler, Mitchell, Burman, Pickett, Gerard, Whiteman, Pickett.

Replacements: Buxton, Sykes, Skinner.

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