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Rugby Result :- Chiswick 17 St Albans 15

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With conditions still ideal for open rugby, there was little to choose between the multi-shaped and multi-sized home team and the more regimented visitors other than their appearance. Chiswick, unusually, started faster, and they induced a panicky offside alignment, for fly half Dave Hill to slot an excellent penalty.

The Saints took early opportunities to show their mauling potential, but Chiswick were strong in the scrums and lineouts, and with dodgy handling in both sets of backs (always under pressure), play was a bit scrappy. It was a surprise when the usually dependable Chiswick mid-field was suddenly pierced and the strong-running Saints’ centre scored near the posts. The conversion was a formality. A battle royal was going on for the ball after every tackle, with Chiswick captain Rory Fletcher, flankers Tom Adams and Ben Kelly in the thick of it, with scrum half Luca Vannini, who was also doing a great smothering job on the opposing No. 8 at the scrums.

A sustained home attack involving both props ended sadly with a turnover near the Saints’ line. The next attack featured Steff Davies, Seth McCullun and Ben Kelly, whose rather wild final pass eluded the sprinting Ray Brooks, who had a clear passage to the line. A quick tap and sprint by the Saints’ scrum half took him nearly clean through the home defence, but luckily his pass out was forward. Centre Josh Noble then produced a magnificent kick right up to the corner flag, with the defender desperately willing it into touch. Not to be, and Brooks collared him as he grabbed it. A Chiswick penalty followed, and despite a good take by Sam Hood in the ensuing lineout, the Chiswick backs wasted the opportunity. The referee, however, kindly sin-binned one of the Saints’ forwards for some innocuous offence. In the next attack, after Sam Biss had run back into the pack after a burst, Ben Cheston, confusingly, cut back round behind the pack and found a clear path ( requiring only great speed ) to the line. After a premature rush, the only movable object was a seagull, which failed to prevent Hill’s conversion. On the stroke of half-time, the Saints levelled the scores with a penalty kick.

The first second half chance fell to the Saints, but a long kick just faded past the post. Trouble followed for Vannini, who picked up a yellow, and then immediately for Chiswick, the Saints mauling to the line from a five metre lineout for their substantial lock to break and fall over the line. An opportunistic kick of a loose ball by Hill almost set up a clear chance for Chiswick, but the ball finished in touch. A forward pass robbed the Saints of another try, and Tom Adams then rescued a desperate situation, as the visitors stepped on the gas. Temporary scrum half Keith Luckman dealt interestingly with a difficult lineout tap back by Hood, using his left foot to hook the ball along the line of the backs, Kelly relishing the bit of extra space thereby produced.

A determined joint home attack by backs and forwards ended in a high tackle on Cheston, who had been put away by Fletcher. Although the referee failed to spot this, Chiswick maintained the pressure, and it was the restored Vannini who burrowed his way to the line for the crucial try, well converted by Luckman. In an exciting ending, Chiswick were reduced again to fourteen, but held out in a nail-biting finish

Chiswick team :- Donaldson, Biss, Davies ( Addison ), McCullun, Hood, Adams, Kelly ( Darroch ), Fletcher, Vannini, Hill ( Catliff ), Lewis, Noble, Cheston, Brooks, Luckman


December 5, 2011