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Words by Zack Foulds

 

With an earlier kick-off time than the Rugby team had been used to in previous years it didn’t take long for the most physical match-up of the day to get underway and treat the Essex support to a first win over UEA for many years. Some readers may recall how the 1st XV threw away a commanding lead at half-time to end up losing by one point and it was clear to see from the outset that both teams were incredibly fired up for this game and that Essex were prepared to battle hard to prevent any sort of repeat.

The conditions for the game were not particularly conducive to the fast-flowing attacking style of rugby that Essex has become accustomed to this year and so with that in mind the forwards set out their stall for the long hard slog to come. The two teams were relatively evenly matched on paper, with UEA being one league above but Essex being undefeated in their respective league this season.

The game was a feisty affair from the start with the opening phases of the game seeing UEA hold the upper hand following some powerful running from their sizable centre partnership. The first score of the game came against the run of play with Dan Dimoline breaking through the UEA defences to sprint home from fully 70 metres out. The tackling had been strong up to that point so it was a welcome gift to Essex at a time when the first score could easily have gone the other way.Essexbarely had time to celebrate before they found themselves under their own posts following some sloppy play from the restart. Failing to secure ball from the kick, Essex were punished with the UEA scrumhalf putting through a well placed kick, aided with a somewhat fortuitous bounce, falling into the attackers hand for them to score under the posts making the score 5-7 to UEA after 20 minutes of play. Play remained tight for the remainder of the half with the only other score coming from the boot of Rob Baynes, although to the delight of the crowd Tom Wheatley did at least try to start a fight every time a UEA player stood within 5m of him!

With the score at 8-7 to Essex and with everything to play forEssexhad the elements at their back as well as their slender lead; well for all of 2 minutes anyway. The wind that was behind them had reversed and was now blowing torrential hail into the faces of theEssexteam. Nevertheless Essex managed to get points on the board almost straight from the restart as they were awarded a penalty that Baynes duly slotted to take the score to 11-7. Another penalty stretched Essex’s lead to 14-7 but it wasEssex’s second try with just over 10 minutes to go which really struck a blow to the hopes of UEA. Great work from the front row of Barr, Lei and DMJ led to Essex winning a scrum against the head deep inside the opposition 22. Quick work from D. Whiteman at no.8 (on as a replacement for J. Bocking) saw him outpace the blindside defence to score out wide taking the game seemingly out of the grasp of UEA, with the score at 19-7. A last minute try from the UEA open-side was nothing more than consolation asEssexsecured a memorable 19-14 win, which was celebrated in typical style as the evening wore on.

A special mention must go to JC Sagoe who was Essex’s MoM. His tireless work in defence as well as repeatedly giving his side forward momentum in attack was crucial in the victory and in placating the main threat of UEA, which was undoubtedly their bigger, more experienced centre partnership.

1st team captain Oliver White had this to see on his team’s victory: “I felt a large amount of responsibility and pressure during derby day in this, my final year and as 1st team captain. Having won not only the rugger but the whole day meant we celebrated in a big way, Nails, well done us.”

“Winning the league outright and beating our rivals is the best way to finish off my fifth and final season of being part of UERFC.” – James Barr,Rugby club president.

Words by Joshua Tait

 

With this year’s Derby Day theme of Spartans Vs Athenians heavily promoted all over the University of Essex campus, it seemed inevitable that both Derby Day’s hosts and UEA would be out for blood, particularly after Essex’s men’s football firsts were handed a comprehensive defeat in last years encounter at the University of East Anglia.

 

Although Derby Day had already been decided in Essex’s favour by the time of the match’s 7.15pm kick off, there was still much to play for, a point proved by a tempestuous opening that saw UEA giving away two free kicks in the early minutes. Essex found it difficult to control the opening exchanges, and at times found themselves penned into their own half by an aggressive UEA side. Despite some resolute defending, the Blades found themselves on the back foot for most of the first half hour, and struggled to contain a rampant UEA midfield, with the pace of their rangy number 11 causing problems up front. Although the visitors were able to enjoy clear dominance, they created few clear cut chances, and Sam Little in the Essex goal had only routine saves to make in the early stages. It took a moment of magic on the half hour mark to break the deadlock, UEA’s busy number 11 winning the ball on the left wing and scoring with a superb curled finish from thirty yards out. Following the opener, the away side took their foot off the gas and allowed the hosts back into the match, Essex enjoying their strongest spell so far and threatening through a dangerous floated ball in from the left hand side shortly before half time. The opening goal had hardly come as a surprise, but Essex would no doubt have been disappointed to go in behind at the interval after a solid defensive showing.

 

The opening moments of the second half saw a second UEA goal rightly ruled out for offside after a corner was sloppily defended, although this certainly did not set the tone for the following 45 minutes. UEA looked happy to sit on their lead, allowing Essex to dictate the tempo of the game and though the Blades struggled to create clear cut chances Essex’s midfield were beginning to control the match. It was certainly not against the run of play when the hosts equalised through a Shaun Brown header, the second half substitute rising high to open their derby day account fifteen minutes into the second half. The Blades were hardly done celebrating when, almost directly from kick off they found themselves in front, Tom Green converting after a blunder from the UEA goalkeeper left him with the goal at his mercy. It was backs to the wall stuff for Essex for the remainder of the second half, and despite keeping UEA at bay they began looking increasingly tired as the game edged towards its conclusion. Just when it was beginning to seem as though they had done enough to see of the visitors, UEA pounced, scoring the equalising goal with a low finish on the right hand side of the penalty area, with just five minutes left to play. It was a blow for a Blades side that had generally kept UEA at arms length despite struggling to create any clear cut chances of their own. With the tie seemingly heading for a 2-2 stalemate, it came as something of a surprise to even the most ardent of Essex’s supporters to see the hosts bursting forward in search of a dramatic winner with minutes remaining. UEA once again looked sloppy following kick off and were punished minutes later when Mark Maher pounced, converting from close range following a flick on from the substitute Shaun Brown, who had once again looked threatening in the opposition penalty area. There was pandemonium throughout the sizeable home crowd, Essex having killed off a match that had at times looked out of their reach. Two minutes remained, but there was a growing sense of inevitability about the result, albeit one that did nothing to quell the rapturous celebrations at the final whistle. Despite their dearth of chances Essex had been clinical in front of goal throughout, punishing a UEA side that switched off too often at key moments of the game. Derby day may have already been decided, but Wednesday evening’s triumph seems sure be remembered as a famous victory for the Essex firsts.

The latter part of 2011 was an exciting one for the University of Essex Golf Club. An influx of new members, regular training schedule and a vibrant social scene has seen the golf club’s stock rise within the university community. Go back 12 months and ask a random person on the squares if they knew Essex had a golf team, the answer would have probably been no. Well this year the tables have turned, the club is ‘kind of a big deal’ and most of you will no doubt have friends and lovers within the team. Some have even been saying that golf is the new rugby!

Onto on-course matters then and President Emily Irons has been quoted as saying she has been ‘delighted and excited’ at her clubs BUCS performances so far this season. Indeed, the first term’s matches have been very promising. The 1st team have continued to make steady progress in their outside bid for promotion. Always the underdogs, the experienced 1st side have been kicking at the heels of the league leaders since the opening fixture. Since that disappointing opening draw, the Blades have won 5 out of 6 matches, with that unfortunate loss being against the high-flying Hertfordshire side. Fresher Sam Mason, though inconsistent, has added a raw and talented edge to the side, exhibiting some huge hitting off the tee. While PHD student Christian Macmillan has been an assured presence, remaining unbeaten all year.

The 2nd team have also been putting in strong showings.  Under the captaincy of the ‘ice-man’ Jin Yoon, the inexperienced side have put in some valiant performances against some tough opposition. Despite only recording one victory (walkover), many of these new players should take heart from their offerings. Fresher’s Marius Thorvildesen, Sam Wells and Sophie Roberts have been excellent additions to the side, all three having registered a win apiece. This in a league where the opposition on paper, is considerably stronger.

With the prospect of promotion and Derby Day just around the corner, the Blades golfers are understandably chomping at the bit to get 2012 off to a flyer. The 2nd’s will be looking to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon and the 1st side will require many things to go their way of they are to make the jump up to next division.  But in a club where the mantra is ‘never give up’, nothing is impossible, that’s for sure.

If you want to come and try golf then you’d be more than welcome. Get in touch via email with either Emily Irons (eirons) or Thomas Rutherford (tpruth), failing that, log on to the SU website for more details.

Words by Thomas Rutherford

The University of Essex Rugby Club is topping the University form table with their first team and an improving second team. With half of the season complete and in the record books the firsts are desperate to achieve both an undefeated league championship and cup run to add. The New Year beckons with a difficult opening fixture against UCL 1st XI in the cup, an unbeaten counterpart a league above, however the Essex outfit remain upbeat about their chances. They welcome all-comers to Rugby Pitch 1 and fancy themselves against most teams in the BUCS Eastern Conference. The fixtures though begin with a third match up with the UCL second team, both times the Essex team proved to be superior in each area of the game. The league boasts one opponent who has the potential to be a banana skin for the Essex outfit; Universities at Medway firsts are unbeaten also, apart from their loss to the Essex side. The two form teams will meet in what will inevitably be the league decider in just the second week of this term. With home advantage the Medway side could prove to be more than a formidable opponent. If Essex go on to win this matchup it is more than likely that an unbeaten league campaign will be achieved.

The second team also has shown promising signs, with a difficult beginning with a team getting to know each other and learning week by week, they are surprising their opponents with performances that are both impressive and exciting to watch. Unfortunately, they were ousted in the cup by a team 2 leagues above but they still remain confident in securing a place in their league with the intention of gaining promotion following year. The second team are lying in a place in the league unrepresentative of their ability, suffering from the inevitable issues facing a team made up of predominantly first years. With the rapid rise in team chemistry and bonding the side really started to gel after a few weeks and are now a force to be reckoned with in their respective league.

The first team will be rebuffed by returning players of yesteryear who have been studying abroad and also with players returning from injuries that kept them out for the majority of the first term, these returning players should bring about new levels of competition for places and make the players work harder to impress. Not only this, there is a hunger to succeed, the mantle of being an unbeaten team come the end of the second term is one huge motivation. This includes success at the ever closer Derby Day in which the team is desperate to make up for their close and undeserved defeat on UEA grounds last year.

The first fixtures back has seen both teams continue to display their improvements with the 1st team overcoming a familiar opponent in UCL in a 46-22 victory and the 2nd team were beaten by two late break away tries against the side that only in October gave the Essex outfit a thrashing in their first fixture of 47-5 to a more respectable 22-29 defeat. These results show that the 2nd team has progressed leaps and bounds and the 1sts are still undefeated and showing no sign of stopping. Now the Christmas cobwebs have been dusted off we can all expect more of the same from the Essex Rugby Club this term.

 

Words by David Morgan Jones

With all of the University’s teams sitting in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the next part of the season couldn’t come soon enough for UEFC. All six outfits are extremely eager to show that the whole club will not take this season lightly, that despite their relatively poor start.

 

The1st XI have seen injuries play a major part in what has been a struggle of a season so far. Captain, George Maher and Shaun Brown have been huge losses to the team and have been out from football since well before the Christmas break. Although not winning a point in the first term, the team has battled bravely and refused to roll over easily, shown by the ability to score in every fixture apart from one. They are sure to be looking to take that next step and secure maximum points from the next five fixtures. The 2nd XI at one point were looking like embarking on a memorable cup run, but were eventually knocked out 2-1 by St Mary’s. Alphie Karatay’s squad may have only recorded one victory in the league but have played well and deserved more than just three points. Billy Layzell possesses a well settled 3rd XI and after a few experiments with tactics, they have everything in place to push on considerably. However, the team are currently sitting second from bottom due to dropping points against weaker teams (including those with players using only one football boot). Goals aren’t proving to be a problem for Layzell though, as players from all over the park are pitching in with some crucial strikes.

 

After finding themselves placed in a difficult league, Jack Bending’s 4th XI has seen some good performances capped with some good results. The turning point being the twenty minute comeback from 3-0 down, against Canterbury Christ Church, early on in the season. It is just a solitary victory over the UEFC 5th team that is proving to be the only three points so far. A lot of early mixing around with players led to some heavy defeats for James Bates’ 5th XI. Now though, it seems he has assembled a strong team that are looking forward to fighting back to get some points on the board. The squad will be itching for the return fixture against the 4th team, with league survival being the potential reward for the victor. The 6th XI’s fixture list sees every match being a local derby of sorts. The added incentive has affected the players well and Ben Grover and Lee Marshall’s team are sitting in third place. Promotion will not be ruled out if the players can gain victories in their coming games.

Words by Gary Finch

Colchester’s fans were in good spirit before their encounter on Saturday, and hopes were high as in form MK Dons visited the Weston Homes Community Stadium. There were two changes to the squad that last faced Crewe, with Tom Eastman being given his home debut in place of the suspended Magnus Okuonghae, and recent addition to the squad Casey Thomas sat on the bench in favour of Anthony Wordsworth. Captain Kem Izzet was riding the bench once again.

The game started off well for the home side as they dominated possession and opportunities on goal in the early part of the game, but the hosts couldn’t convert and saw a number of chances go to waste. The deadlock was broken after 23 minutes however, as Lloyd James’ saw his cross guided into the far corner of the net with a deft head from Matt Heath.

After having a strong command of the game in the first 35 minutes nevertheless, John Ward’s side saw their grip on the game loosen when the visitors equalised in the 37th minute. Charlie MacDonald converted an easy tap in from Daniel Powell’s pass across the goalmouth and in a strong period of play, Tom Flanagan then put the Dons on top going into the half, with another easy goal scored close to the end of added time.

The U’s came out flat once again the second half, looking complacent and uncoordinated both in defence and in attack. Despite this, the home side went close a few times, the best opportunity coming when Andy Bond beat the offside trap, only to blast the ball high over the bar in a 1-on-1 with the keeper.

The last 15 minutes of the game were the most damaging for the home side. MacDonald popped up again and knocked in the visitors third after some shoddy defending left him an open net in the 74th minute, then Stephen Gleeson’s curling shot from the edge of the box made it 4-1 in the 87th minute, and the rout was completed when Jabbo Ibehre tapped in yet another easy goal for MK Dons deep into injury time, wrapping up a 5-1 victory for Karl Robinson’s side.

Post-game, John Ward admitted the result was ‘tough to take’. Speaking of how the team should go forward from here, Ward said that it was now a question of ‘professionalism’ and ‘taking it on the chin’. Indeed, whilst there is no doubt there is reason to be disappointed with the result, the U’s will need to learn from this and move on quickly if they are to rebound next week when they visit Carlisle.

Colchester now sit 14th in the League 1 table with 23 points from 18 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates 

Saturday’s game was a quiet one for both sides, but will undoubtedly be a result John Ward’s side will have left Prenton Park happy with. There was just one change to the starting lineup from last week’s 4-2 victory over Notts County, that being Ashley Vincent in for the injured Steven Gillespie, with new boy Casey Thomas sat on the bench.

The early part of the game was dominated by Les Parry’s side, who had a number of chances that were scuppered by U’s keeper Ben Williams. The chance of the half however fell to Ash Taylor who could have put Rovers ahead in the 26th minute, but his header from deep in the penalty area bounced harmlessly over the bar, missing what looked like an easy goal.

Colchester played a better game in the 2nd half, the best chance coming from Michail Antonio. In an impressive solo effort on the 74th minute, Anotonio beat 3 players before hitting a shot that was creeping inside the bottom left corner before Owain fon Williams got a hand to it.

In a more even half, the U’s had Ben Williams to thank after his heroics denied a number of efforts from Rovers striker Adam McGurk to keep the game goalless, giving the away side a vital away point against tough opposition.

Post game, Ward spoke of his contentedness with the result –

“We scored four goals in beating Notts County last week but I’m probably happier with this result, performance and effort from my team.”

After denying Tranmere a goal from their 15 chances, Ben Williams said he believes the team has what it takes to reach the playoffs this season, even though the team could be viewed as “gate-crashing the party”, a challenge that would not be out of the question now that Ward’s side sit only 5 points behind 6th place.

Colchester United now sit 11th in the League 1 table with 23 points from 17 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates 

Saturday saw the U’s triumph 4-2 over a tough opponent in Notts County, a game in which John Ward’s side looked confident and possessed the hunger for goals that has been lacking of late.

In a move away from the 4-5-1 formation that has been favoured recently, Steve Gillespie started his first game of the year partnering Kayode Odejayi up front in the 4-4-2 formation the team ended Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Bournemouth playing. Notably, the odd man out in the centre of midfield was captain Kem Izzet, with Andy Bond and Anthony Wordsworth getting the nod to start.

Michail Antonio gave the home fans hope early on, as a patch of strong attacking play resulted with his shot being narrowly parried over the crossbar on its way to the top left corner of Stuart Nelson’s goal. After starting strong, Gillespie’s game came to an abrupt end when he left the game after 23 minutes due to a hamstring injury. His exit was one of the few points of note during a first half that finished goalless.

It didn’t take long after the break for the deadlock to be broken, as Anthony Wordsworth’s free-kick from just outside the box took a deflection before heading in the left hand side of the goal. Notts County weren’t behind for long however, with Sam Sodje nodding home the equaliser from Jude Sterling’s long throw in the 57th minute.

From this point onwards Colchester began to dominate the game, leading to Antonio’s goal in the 65th minute and a top effort from outside the box that whistled into the top right corner by Ian Henderson just after the 70 minute mark. Kayode Odejayi finished the goal-fest a few minutes later by picking up Henderson’s defence splitting pass and taking to around the keeper to put home the U’s 3rd goal in 10 minutes.

During injury time Notts County got themselves a late consolation prize in the form of Ian Hughes’ shot deflecting off of Matt Heath’s right boot into the back of the net, however it was too late for the visitors to salvage anything from the game.

Post-game, John Ward spoke of the way the team responded to changes he made leading up to the game.

“I’m delighted with the way that my team has responded to the whole game. We changed the format slightly, and then we’ve had to change it again with Steven Gillespie coming off.”

Colchester United now sit 12th in the League 1 table with 22 points from 16 games.

Follow @_adambond on twitter for all your Colchester United updates 

On a warm, still day on the Essex University pitches Essex Mens 1st XV welcomed Medway University for the second BUCS league fixture of the season looking to build on their promising win the previous week.  With a slightly depleted team Essex were looking toward some untried Freshers to really step forward and make a claim for cementing a regular first team place in front of new coach Nick Lloyd. After last weeks big win against UCL 2nd XV Essex knew that they would be provided with a sterner challenge from Medway who had come off the back of a win themselves the previous week.

Essex won the toss and chose to kick to the opposition and with some excellent forward play soon had the ball back in their hands. As would prove to be a common theme throughout the game the Essex forwards bullied their way deep into the opposition 22 and were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for hands in the ruck from the Medway flanker, Jack Marlow duly converted the penalty to give Essex a 3-0 lead within the opening two minutes. No sooner had the game restarted than Medway were to find themselves under their own posts yet again. The Essex pack were really imposing themselves on this game in its early phases and utilised their superior size to the full when driving over flanker Joss Nunn to score the first try of the game, the try was converted by Jack Marlow. The early signs were encouraging for Essex and the game continued in this very one-sided vein for the opening 20 minutes with Essex adding one more score in this period. A simple yet effective backs move with the Essex backline moving the ball swiftly through the hands to the winger Nick York who outpaced his opposite winger on the outside to score in the corner, 15-0 to Essex. This try was a prime example of the forwards dominance creating space for Essex’s ever dangerous back line and was a perfect example of Rugby being made to look simple through perfect execution.  Essex scored once more before half-time, debutant Ashley Clarke-Walkin sprinting in from fully 60 metres after the backline again created an overlap, the try was converted meaning that Essex headed into the break in a comfortable position, leading 22-0.

 

With a solid lead going into the second half the game plan for Essex would have been to build on the foundations that they had laid and continue to assert their dominance over the opposition in the forwards, unfortunately that was not to be. Whether Essex came out expecting the victory was unclear however Medway suddenly seemed to pose a much bigger threat than they had for the duration of the first half. Despite Medway having their inside centre sin-binned for hands in the ruck early on, they were still first to put points on the board, springing on some loose handling by Essex in their own 22 to score in the left-hand corner. What happened next is a rarity in rugby as Essex were shown two yellow cards within the space of 2 minutes, the first of which was a somewhat contentious decision to say the least. With Essex down to 13 men the team showed a brave and resilient streak that will bode them well going towards future games. Essex didn’t concede a point during this 8 minute period with 13 men and in doing so managed to secure that Medway had too much to do going into the final 10 minutes 17 points behind. Medway did manage to get a consolation score meaning the final result was Essex 22- 12 Medway.

The acting captain for the day Adam Atkins had this to say after the game:

“We got off to a great start today and although I’m disappointed with how we played in the second half the boys still showed passion to keep out Medway when we were down to 13 players. If we combine that passion with the attacking rugby we know we’re capable of it should be a good season.”