Poor second half peformance costs Manor dear
Manor travelled to Colchester this week with selection again disrupted by a number of players unavailable for consideration, even so Manor matched their opponents for the first half, but allowed their intensity to drop in the second half which their opponents took full advantage of eventually running out comfortable winners.
Manor began the game the stronger of the two teams running hard with ball in hand and winning the contest at the breakdown, Colchester were camped in their half, but defended well. Manor set up an attack through Rhys Davis-Horne who pounced on a loose ball, hacking it forward towards Colchester’s 22 and although the defence were first to the ball, pressure from Davis-Horne caused the defence to knock the ball on. Manor won the scrum allowing Reece Reed to dart down the blind side before feeding winger Corrado Martelletti who powered his way towards the line but was stopped just short. The ref was playing advantage for an offside and awarded Manor a penalty in front of the posts. Nick Sheppard stepped up and slotted the ball over the posts giving Manor an early lead 0 - 3 after 7 minutes.
Manor continued to take the game to Colchester with debutant Michael Byrne, Ollie Waugh and Garth Tucker all making good ground with ball in hand, but Colchester were gradually getting back into the game, capitalising on Manors mistakes and winning a number of penalties. From one such penalty Colchester kicked to touch inside Manors 22 where they won their lineout setting up a couple of powerful runs before setting up a driving maul and going over the line for their first try. The conversion was successful and with 15 minutes played Colchester had taken the lead 7 – 3.
From the restart Manor hit back at Colchester with strong running with ball in hand where Sheppard in particular was proving difficult to stop. After working their way into Colchester’s 22 Manor attacked the try line where Waugh was stopped just short, but quick recycled ball was fed along the backline and just when it looked like Manor would score the Colchester prop deliberately knocked the ball on giving Manor a penalty, but for some reason no further sanction from the ref against the offender. Manor opted for a scrum where Tucker drove off the back and got within a couple of meters of the line before being stopped, Waugh took the ball on and again was stopped just short but Manor quickly recycled the ball out wide where Brad Burrell drove over the line but couldn’t ground the ball. Manor continued to attack inside the 22 and from the scrum Tucker drove off the back and when stopped recycled the ball to his backline where Sheppard arrived at pace taking an unstoppable line, crashing through two tackles and outpacing the last line of defence to go in for a try. With the conversion successfully taken by Sheppard, after 20 minutes Manor had regained the lead 7 – 10.
Colchester now had a period of possession and tested Manors defence, which was up to the task, closing their opposition down whenever they had the ball and forcing them into handling errors which halted their attacks. Waugh won turnover ball for Manor and a penalty which was kicked deep into Colchester’s 22 for an attacking lineout. Unfortunately Manor had lost hooker Lee Reed to a shoulder injury and this affected the normally smooth operating Manor lineout and they lost the throw in allowing Colchester to counter attack from deep. The lineout would prove a problem for Manor for the remainder of the match.
Colchester were now playing with confidence and had the better of the attacking exchanges, after a series of forward runs the ball was fed out to their flyhalf who spotted a gap in behind Manors line and put in a well judged kick which their winger chased and just won the race to touch the ball down over the line. The conversion from out wide was missed but Colchester now led 12 – 10 after 35 minutes of the first half.
The half ended with Colchester in the ascendency, attacking inside Manors 22, but again good defence stopped them from scoring and forced the mistake which allowed Manor to clear the danger and bring the half to an end.
Manor kicked off the second half and soon won back possession from the hosts allowing Tucker to combine with Sheppard and Moe Alotham to take play to Colchester’s 22 where a forward pass halted a promising attack.
Colchester again worked their way up field though a series of driving runs taking play to Manors 22. Here Manors lineout problems resurfaced when they lost their throw in, this allowed Colchester to attack the try line where they eventually broke through Manors defence to score a seven point try taking the score to 19 – 10 in Colchester’s favour after 7 minutes of the second half.
It wasn’t long before the lead was increased further when Manor were caught offside giving Colchester an easy shot at goal to increase the score to 22 – 10.
Colchester were now the dominant side, working through the phases of play, keeping possession well and driving hard at Manors defence, although Manor still defended well they were giving the opposition too much space to work with, something that they didn’t do in the first half and so it was only a matter of time before Colchester again crossed the line after setting up a driving maul from a lineout close to Manors line, with the conversion good Colchester increased their lead to 29 – 10 after 20 minutes of the second half.
Manor, when they did secure possession, still posed an attacking threat with Luigi Martelletti setting up an attack from deep inside his half when he went on a mazy run taking play close to Colchester’s 22 where George Cosmo and Burrell combined to take play close to the try line, but poor handling eventually brought a promising attack to a halt.
Manor were finding it increasingly difficult to gain any quality possession which allowed Colchester to dictate play and after a good break by their centre they almost added to their score, only being thwarted by a try saving tackle by Waugh.
This only delayed things as from a lineout close to Manors line Colchester again set up a driving maul and drove the ball over the line for another score and successful conversion. With 25 minutes played the score had moved on to 36 – 10.
Manor did hit back after a scrum inside their half Tucker drove the ball up field before it was moved along the backline and for the first time in the match Ollie Phillips found himself in some space, he then showed what a dangerous attacker he was when he skipped around a couple of tackles then set off at pace making 40 meters before being brought down inside Colchester’s 22, as he went to ground he popped the ball to the supporting Tucker who from 15 meters out went over the line for Manors second try. The conversion from out wide was successful by Reece Reed so the deficit had been reduced to 36 – 17 with a little over 8 minutes of the match to play.
During the final minutes Colchester added another try to their tally and when the final whistle went they had run out comfortable winners by 41 points to 17.
For the first half of the match Manor were more than a match for their opposition but in the second half when Colchester upped their game and cut out some of the errors that had plagued their first half performance, Manor failed to respond and if anything their intensity dropped rather than increase and the opposition were given too much space to work in. Manors cause is not helped by the constant chopping and changing in personnel where for one reason or another players are not available for selection. Next week Manor face another stern test in the shape of North Walsham, but they are more than capable of gaining a much needed victory and if they play for 80 minutes like they did in the first half against Colchester then Manor can secure a moral boosting victory.