Chiswick On A Roll

Rugby result: Chiswick 26 Harpenden 13

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The wine connoisseur would say that the blend that is Chiswick nouveau , combining vinho verde and vieilles vignes , is maturing nicely, but needs to be kept at the right temperature to develop the full flavour. This match was perhaps a bit too warm. Harpenden defended stoutly, particularly on their goal-line, where Chiswick were frustrated for many minutes of the game, and caused problems with their excellent kick-offs. Their opening kick, in fact, led to a try within a couple of minutes, as the Chiswick catcher missed the ball, and after the home team had resisted the first Harpenden attack, Ady Lewis had a difficult kick to deal with and was forced to concede a five metre lineout. Harpenden caught well, mauled well and released the ball out along the line, where their fly-half found an enticing hole in the home defensive line to zip through. The two points were duly added.

Chiswick roared back, urged on by a good crowd of supporters, and camped on the Harpenden line, where they suffered their first frustrations. A panicky pass back, which bounced off the post nearly gifted Simon Hallett a try, but he was just beaten to the loose ball. Twelve minutes in and Dave Hill slotted a forty yard penalty after persistent home pressure. Hill then produced a long touch kick, and Hallett harried the Harpenden defence into a mistake. With Sam Hood and Ollie Hire catching well in the lineouts, Chiswick had plenty of possession, but were faced with an obdurate defence. A Harpenden kick was half charged down, giving Sam Leslie-Miller a chance to break, with Tom Shattock in support, but the move was eventually stifled. When Harpenden finally got in a sustained attack, James Dibble’s tackle was crucial in preventing a score. Harpenden gained a penalty, however, and went back into a seven point lead.

Captain Luca Vannini likes tapped penalties, and with Harpenden declining to retreat as far as the referee required, Chiswick got within Hill’s range, and another three points were notched up. A promising Chiswick attack down the left wing was rudely halted by an intercepting punch at the ball, which was rewarded with a yellow card for the visitors’ fly half. The Chiswick pack was unfortunately wheeled at the ensuing scrum, and Harpenden got the ball safely upfield. Ady Lewis did well to catch a neat chip by the athletic Harpenden full back, and set up a good move where George Dimitriadis had space to demonstrate his trade mark zig-zag, ending with a perfect (?) inside pass to Vannini, with a clear route to the line. The referee’s intervening whistle was booed by the crowd, but the “perfect” pass may just have been three inches forward. Chiswick kept up a continuous attack, and Tom Adams, Jan Joubert and Hill all got within inches of the line, but Harpenden held out until half-time.

They then very nearly scored directly from the Chiswick kick-off, with a bullet-like run by their full back, Muskett. Riki Darroch was the unlikely man to make a break from the next Harpenden lineout as the ball sailed over the jumpers. Harpenden then took the Chiswick throw near the home line, but Vannini was up very fast on their scrum-half, and Chiswick managed to get the ball back. Harpenden missed a couple of ambitious long penalty kicks as Chiswick got gradually on top, buffeting the visitors’ line, but not quite getting over it. Eventually, when it looked as if the home team had run out of ideas, Matt Small, getting cold and bored out on the wing, suddenly appeared on an inside shoulder in the line to demand the ball and streak over under the posts. Hill converted and Chiswick were ahead.

Only for a minute, however. Harpenden caught their own kick-off, and Chiswick conceded a penalty. Thirteen all. Chiswick were still confident, however, and came back strongly. Gabs Lowe came on for Hill, and was soon taking his first penalty kick, which he pulled just left of the posts. Dimitriadis jinked his way up-field, and Lowe got another chance. This time he succeeded, and the home team were ahead again, with ten minutes left. The confidence was there, and a simple move with Hallett giving Mark Jones the ball in a bit of space, saw the Chiswick idol power his way to the left corner for the all-important eight point lead. The kick just failed, but it mattered not, as Dimitriadis put the cherry on the cake with a well-worked try in the right corner. Chris Morris came on and infused massive energy into the home defence as Harpenden desperately tried to get back into the match. Marco Chraplewczyk was the final sub and provided crucial back-up as Lewis put in a try-saving tackle.


Chiswick team :- Shattock ( Chraplewczyk ), Dibble, Joubert, Hood, Hire, Adams ( Morris ), Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hill ( Lowe ), Small, Hallett, Jones, Dimitriadis, Lewis


December 17, 2012