Grasshoppers Spoil The Plot For Chiswick

Rugby result: Chiswick 15 Grasshoppers 23

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On a day when France went walkabout, Chiswick suffered a déjà vu, going 23-3 down before a final flourish (last week it was 19-3 before 19-15, and in the EDF semi-final last year a very similar story).

In fact, given that they started a local derby against a very strong Grasshoppers team with a new scrum half, a flanker on one wing and a centre on the other ( one player being injured in the warm-up, and the other apparently being stuck in a traffic jam ), they were unlucky to have a day when their inevitable mistakes were punished so harshly by an organised and combative Grasshoppers team.

Chiswick nearly scored first, Al Pickering peeling from a scrum five and being just held up. Keith Luckman put in some probing kicks, but the Grasshoppers defence was solid, and the visitors came back with some impressive mauling as they gained confidence. Chiswick resorted to the ( presently illegal ) collapsing tactic, and gave away the three points. That was a simple kick, but when the Chiswick scrum gave away another penalty wide out, the Grasshoppers fly half slotted that one as well, and alarm bells started ringing.

Chiswick’s defence coped with the next maul, but Grasshoppers backs surged towards the line in the home 22 before giving away a penalty. Grasshoppers came back again, and Luckman had to make a good saving tackle from behind on their full back. Given the lack of wings, Chiswick appeared to be kicking possession away too often.

Grasshoppers used long kicks to touch very effectively, pinning Chiswick in their own half, and producing mistakes as they tried to break out. Tom Duffy eventually tried the same tactic, and a rare visit to the Grasshoppers’ 22 produced three points. The next Grasshoppers’ maul took play from the half way line to the home 22, and a neat chip for their wing caused indecision in the home defence and a try for the visitors’ wing. The kick was horrible. An injury to Matt Pickering brought Marco Chraplewczyk on for the third consecutive match, as Chiswick spurned a couple of half chances.

Grasshoppers shot out of the blocks in the second half, and were soon further ahead after an intricate passing movement finished with a chip for the line being chased by four Grasshoppers and the stand-in Chiswick wing, looking a little forlorn. The kick bounced off the post.

When the Chiswick wing finally arrived, Rory Fletcher could revert to flanker, Graham Robbings going off with an injury, which had not stopped him tackling almost continuously throughout the game. Chiswick began to gain confidence, and Fletcher did a great kick through which Grasshoppers did well to recover from, but the home backs were still trying to sort themselves out, although Neil Gillie, the new scrum half, was finding Luckman well with his passes.

Ben Cheston did manage to disrupt a promising Grasshoppers move with a great rip from their fly half, as did Luckman later on. Jan Joubert was getting livelier as the game went on, and started another promising move with a ten metre surge. Sam Hood was doing marvels with the lineouts, and showed a good pair of hands when linking with the backs.

Disaster then struck Chiswick. Simon Hallett had swapped places with Duffy, and a mix-up in the middle of the line ended with the ball bouncing off Lewis Hammond’s head and being kicked over the line for the Grasshoppers’ fly half to touch down for a deserved try, which he then converted.

Chiswick were now trying to move the ball around more, and after a recumbent Shane Donaldson had clung, limpet-like to a ball near the touchline, Hallett, Chris Halliwell and Duffy combined well for Hallett to be pulled up feet from the line. A hopeful Cheston chip over the line was touched down by a covering scrum half. Hammond suddenly streaked down the field, and linked with Hallett before the move fizzled out. Rory Fletcher put in a good touch kick to take play ten metres from the Grasshoppers line.

It was mostly Chiswick pressure now, and Stephan Davies got close to scoring in the left corner, before Chris Halliwell finished off a move in the right corner. The kick failed, but in the dying minutes Cheston had a couple of runs, the first ending when the supporting Al Pickering’s dash for the corner was thwarted by a solid tackle. The second came out of the blue after multiple passes between Luckman and Hallett had completely bemused the defence, and was a typical zigzag run ending under the posts. Duffy converted, and the final whistle blew.

Chiswick team :- Donaldson, Joubert, Davies, Hood, Pickering M ( Chraplywyj ), Adams, Robbings ( Hallett ), Pickering A, Gillie, Luckman, Fletcher, Duffy, Cheston, Halliwell, Hammond

March 22, 2010