Well Fought Rugby Contest

Chiswick 12 Hammersmith and Fulham 18

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This was always going to be a close match, with both teams having won once against the other previously, but maybe the anxiety got to Chiswick: whatever the reason, they made far too many mistakes against a more clinical Hammersmith, the handling in particular letting them down, as defences dominated the game.

The first threatening run came from the visitors and Ady Lewis had to produce a saving tackle in a one-on-one situation. George Dimitriadis made an opening for Chiswick, but his inside flip bounced off the would-be recipient. The scrums and lineouts were pretty even, but Chiswick had more possession early on. They wasted it, however, under pressure, with loose passes and knocks-on. Hammersmith were also guilty as the players tried to run too fast close to the man with the ball.

An apparent high and early tackle on a Chiswick player was interpreted strangely by the referee as a knock on by Chiswick, as play remained fragmented. The Chiswick pack were straining every muscle to control the game, with Sam Leslie-Miller in fine fettle, but when Chiswick opened out, the backs kept making a mess of it, for no apparent reason, given the relatively benign weather. Chiswick produced a great maul, but then lost the ball. Hammersmith had the first attempted penalty goal, but the ball faded just left. When Chiswick resorted to pick-and-go tactics they were more successful, with Tom Shattock, Leslie-Miller, James Dibble and Jan Joubert always handy to make five metres, or thereabouts. Simon Hallett and Rikki Darroch were putting a lot of pressure on the Hammersmith line behind the scrums, disrupting their attack. Ady Lewis did well to retain possession during his jinking runs, but all around him Chiswick players were dropping the ball, to everyone’s frustration. The handling errors finally undid Chiswick when a dropped pass and an offside play allowed Hammersmith to take a quick tapped penalty. Their elusive winger, with a bit of room, got the better of the home defence to score a try, not converted, in the corner. The final period of the first half belonged to Chiswick, but they failed to make any deep penetrations into the solid Hammersmith defence.

The second half started disastrously for the home team, when Dimitriadis, having done well to secure a difficult long kick, was somehow misled and passed the ball inside to an opponent who cantered over between the posts unopposed. The kick was a gimme. 12-0. Chiswick were really stung now, and with Leslie-Miller producing a devastating tackle, and Josh Noble a huge downfield kick, they progressed into the Hammersmith 22. Sam Hood was dispossessed just short of the line, but Lewis ran the ensuing kick back, and after Leslie-Miller and Darroch had been involved, the waves parted for captain Luca Vannini to zip over the line. The conversion was easy. After Hammersmith had got within a couple of metres of the home line, Chiswick broke upfield through Darroch. Vannini got the man and ball together or even slightly in the wrong order, but managed to pass it on. Hood and Lewis carried on the move. Chiswick retained possession after the breakdown and a multi-phase attack, involving sub Gabs Lowe and sundry others, finished with Sam Biss finding the other Sam, Sam Hood inside him to use his height to reach over the line. Hallett’s kick came back off the post.

Chiswick gave away a couple of penalties, the second costing them the lead, as they got impatient trying to get on top of an obdurate opposition. Eventually, they managed to steal a ball in midfield, and sub Matt Pickering wove his way towards the Hammersmith line, only for the umpteenth knock-on to thwart the attack. The Hammersmith fly-half then created an overlap by a quick switch of direction, and after some desperate home defence, the whistle went, apparently for a high tackle. The kick wobbled, but went between the posts for a six point lead to the visitors.

A five metre lineout gave Chiswick a great chance, with Hood catching at the front and a weak response by the Hammersmith pack. Unbelievably, however, the pack managed to knock the ball on as they surged over the line. This should have been the defining moment, with the kick deciding the match, but it was not to be, and Hammersmith ran out the winners of this well-fought contest.

Chiswick team :- Shattock, Dibble, Joubert, Hood, Joyce, Biss, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hallett, Dimitriadis, Gibson, Noble, Lewis, Hill

Subs :- Tonkin, Pickering, Lowe



April 8, 2013