BRAINTREE Rugby Club joint coach Brian Joslin hailed his side as "awesome" after seeing them establish themselves as the leading force in the Essex League division one premier promotion race.

Despite being reduced to 14 men in the second half, the Black and Ambers made a big statement of intent to the rest of their promotion rivals with a 25-7 win against second-placed Millwall to go clear at the top of the table.

Joslin said: “This was a massive test of character for us and the second half defensive effort after we went down to 14 men was awesome.

“It’s clear why Millwall have gone so well this season.

"They’re a very organised side in attack and defence and they pushed us for the whole 80 minutes.

"The return fixture will be a real challenge.

“Unfortunately the win came at a cost as Max Turner and James Abbott both picked up head injuries which will keep them out for two to three weeks and Jamie Prince will face a suspension (after his sending off).”

Following the win, the Essex one premier table shows Braintree six points clear of Millwall at the top, however, it should look even healthier for the Black and Ambers before this weekend’s trip to Stanford-le-Hope.

The RFU are yet to award Braintree the points they accrued as a result of Billericay’s failure to play them the previous week, due to an appeal by the south Essex side against a fine.

Joslin added: “Billericay were fined for failing to inform the RFU they hadn’t fulfilled the fixture and they’re appealing against the fine.

“We haven’t done anything wrong but until the matter is finally resolved, the points we were awarded for the walkover won’t show in the table.”

Braintree’s second XV endured a weekend of frustration after opponents Barking and then late stand-ins Thurrock both called off, but they are now due to to host Old Cooperians at Robbs Wood on Saturday.