Norwich show battling qualities to avoid a rout

Chris GillhamColchester 47, Norwich 27: If you were at Colchester on Saturday just to be entertained then you would certainly have got your money's worth. Travelling Norwich supporters were able to admire some of Colchester's back play and applaud yet another great comeback from Norwich, who at one stage in the first half looked as though they would be totally overwhelmed.Chris Gillham

If you were at Colchester on Saturday just to be entertained then you would certainly have got your money's worth.

Travelling Norwich supporters were able to admire some of Colchester's back play and applaud yet another great comeback from Norwich, who at one stage in the first half looked as though they would be totally overwhelmed.

Norwich were under pressure from the kick-off and it was no surprise when Colchester took the lead with a penalty kicked by centre Chris Withers, who was to prove a thorn in Norwich's side all afternoon.

On their first visit to Colchester territory from a line-out on the home 22, Norwich drove forward and prop forward Aaron Swanborough crashed over and Josh Ives added the conversion to put his side in the lead.


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Colchester responded with a try after 10 minutes scored by their pacy full-back Damien Brambley which Withers had no problem converting to restore the Colchester lead. Half way through the half Ives got Norwich back on level terms with a well struck penalty. Moments later John Lenihan, in the centre for Norwich, was injured and had to be replaced by Doug Greenwood.

Shortly afterwards Withers kicked another penalty to put the home side back in the lead at 13-10. Colchester increased their lead on the stroke of half-time when their left wing Lawrence Tapper went over after Norwich failed to deal with a chip through from the young Colchester fly-half Matt Barnes. Withers added an excellent conversion to give Colchester a 10 point lead at half-time.

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The start of the second half was a disaster for Norwich. They gave away a try from the kick-off, scored under the posts by second row Lee Soper which Withers converted.

Moments later Colchester scored a fine try after the ball had gone through several pairs of hands, with Tapper going over again and Withers, inevitably, converting.

Norwich at this stage were looking down the barrel and it is to their credit that they got back in the game, scoring three tries in succession through Paul Micklethwaite, Phil O'Brien and Scott Hancocks, with Ives being able to convert only the first one.

Hancocks' try was excellent as he outpaced the cover to score in the corner. These scores reduced the deficit to seven points and Norwich were back in the game. However any thoughts that their supporters may have had of nicking it were quickly dispelled when Colchester scored a try from a rolling maul which Norwich could not stop. Replacement Michael Westall was credited with the score which again Withers converted.

He then added two more penalties to wrap up the game for Colchester, who ultimately had too much pace outside and an excellent goal kicker in Withers.

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