SOUTHEND Saxons’ director of rugby Josh Ward was left feeling gutted following his side’s 24-21 defeat to Colchester.

Southend led the London One North clash 21-13 heading into the final 20 minutes at Warners Bridge.

But Colchester hit back to triumph, much to the frustration of Ward.

“We’re absolutely gutted as a group,” said Ward.

“We needed to respond after last week which I felt we did but the last quarter killed us as we conceded 13 penalties in 20 minutes.

“I felt we were the more expansive side that looked to play and at times we were excellent.

“But they’re an experienced bunch though and to their credit they found a way in the end.

“Our game management as a 15 was slightly erratic which leaves us with a self-inflicted defeat feeling.

“The bottom line is we shouldn’t be losing games when 21-13 up with 20 to go.”

However, Ward was also keen to try and point towards the positives.

“Were we better than last week? Yes. Have we still got a shed load to offer? Yes and to me that’s hugely positive,” said Ward.

“Another outstanding shift from our Priors is also very pleasing and we will be looking for another good week ahead of Sudbury.”

Colchester, who have yet to lose this season, opened the scoring with a penalty on Saturday before Southend replied with a try from Matt Wagstaff which was converted by Ben Lloyd.

Colchester hit back with a try of their own before a penalty from Lloyd made it 10-10 at the break.

Saxons then established a six-point lead with two more penalties before Colchester replied with one of their own.

But Southend soon moved further clear with a superbly finished try from Rory Inwood which put the hosts 21-13 ahead.

However, Colchester soon replied with a try to cut Saxons’ lead to three points before a penalty from the visitors levelled the scores.

But Colchester did not stop there and a last-gasp penalty saw them break Southend’s hearts right at the death.

Southend Saxons: Nel, Richards, Wasley, Vaughan, Banks, Lloyd, Branch, Smith, Forster-Knight, Armitage, O’Kill, Newton, Morrison, Law, Wagstaff. Replacements: Reeman, Read & Inwood