Rugby result :- Chiswick 31 Tabard 11
With the team of their choice at last available, the Chiswick coaches were rewarded for all their efforts by a superb performance against the unbeaten League leaders with dazzling runs in the midfield, the best scrummaging for a long time, competent lineout work, strong resistance to the visitors’ favourite mauls and a gritty determination to keep Tabard out when they applied sustained heavy pressure near the Chiswick line.
Playing Simon Hallett at fly half worked well, and his goal-kicking was quite a revelation. Chiswick applied pressure from the start against a somewhat sluggish Tabard fifteen, perhaps recovering from the previous week’s defeat of second-placed Hemel, and were soon six points up with two Hallett penalties. Josh Noble was given the first touch kick, which he bounced in very neatly. Hansie Bezuidenhout then bounced a few Tabard players off in a trademark youthful burst, before some rapid handling left Hallett apparently clean through. The defence converged rapidly, however, and he was tackled just short of the line. George Dimitriadis was there to rescue the ball, and after Rory Fletcher, Jan Joubert and Hallett had all been held up short, the whistle went, and Hallett slotted his first kick. The second came courtesy of Luca Vannini’s quick thinking, the captain’s tap and run catching Tabard not retreating, giving Hallett an easy kick.
Chiswick kept up the pressure, with Sam Hood catching the kick-off, pivoting past the would-be Tabard catcher and haring off towards the posts. Tabard were momentarily non-plussed, but rallied their defence as Chiswick threw the ball around with abandon. Bez got very close, but when eventually Chiswick spread the ball wide, rush tackling produced a Chiswick knock-on. The first scrum success went to Chiswick, as they wheeled the mighty Tabard eight, and with Bez shunting the opposition backwards, running from the base of the scrum on the Chiswick ball, things were looking good. John Gibson made a slippery run through the Tabard line, which looked a bit vulnerable. Chiswick then opted for a lineout from a kickable position, but Vannini, spotting a gap, just failed to wriggle through the Tabard forwards. A spear-like tackle by the Tabard wing earned him a yellow card, but Chiswick failed to capitalise. Tabard finally got a bit of possession, and after Bez was penalised for getting up after a tackle and running on, thinking he was not held, Tabard camped in the home 22. They retained possession well, and their No.4 came into the line and forced his way over from short range. The kick came back from the post. Tabard attacked right up to the half-time whistle, but the home defence kept them out, just.
Early in the second half Noble tried a long kick and chase, and the angled bounce favoured Chiswick. Rikki Darroch got the ball out to George Dimitriadis, who got round the first defender, but fell foul of the second. Ady Lewis had a run down the right wing, but Ray Brooks was caught just short of the line: He limped off almost immediately, with Gabs Lowe coming on. The Chiswick back row achieved a turnover in midfield, and Hallett and Noble spirited the ball to Gibson who found an exquisite angle of attack through the Tabard line to score an emotional try under the posts, Hallett stroking the kick over from rather close to the goal line. Chiswick certainly believed now, with thirty five minutes to go, despite immediately giving three points back by failure to release.
The next Chiswick penalty was near the opposition’s ten-metre line, but with a little wind assistance, the Hallett kick soared way over the bar mid-way between the posts. Euphoria reigned. Tabard tried a quick move along the line to their quickish right wing, but Dimitriadis turned and dived back and left in a magnificent tackle ( “best ever seen at Riverside” as one seventy nine year old said ). Confidence was now running through the home team. Hood made himself a real nuisance on the Tabard lineouts. The referee had words with both captains and soon two more yellow cards appeared. Penalties were now swapped, leaving Chiswick still eight points ahead.
Tabard were throwing caution to the winds now, despite being down to thirteen after a high tackle, and suddenly there was a wind-propelled Lewis shooting towards the Tabard line with no-one within calling distance, after an interception. Hallett converted, and the game was over. Except, with minutes to go, Noble decided to test his sprinting abilities against the opposition with a long kick towards the corner. Do not bet against this man. He got their first, and the ball reached the omnipresent Darroch on the follow-up for a triumphal final, though unconverted, try.
Chiswick team :- Shattock, Dibble, Joubert, Hood, Leslie-Miller, Fletcher, Darroch, Bezuidenhout, Vannini, Hallett, Dimitriadis, Gibson, Noble, Brooks, Lewis
Subs:- Marshall, Adams, Lowe
January 14, 2013