Chiswick’s Pre-Christmas Cheer
Rugby result - Chiswick 22 St. Albans 6
St. Albans had beaten Beaconsfield, who had hammered Chiswick, so “obviously” Chiswick would, and did, win this one.
The early pressure came from a fired-up home team, whose forwards were intent on domination from the off, but whose re-organised back division, lacking captain and scrum-half Luca Vannini, took time to sort themselves out. The referee whistled up very regularly, with Chiswick generally being the beneficiary, but Andy John’s early penalty kick, from straight in front, was grabbed by the stiffish north wind and diverted past the post, indicating a levelling of the odds.
Joe Grindle immediately showed why long wind-assisted kicks by the Saints were not necessarily a good idea, the full back bolting up-field and causing consternation amongst the flock of Saints’ forwards. The Chiswick scrum was solid, scrum half Russ Dovey was having no problems with the put-in, and promoted hooker Gabs Box found Jon Joyce well with his first throw-in.
All was well, but Chiswick could not score despite a long period of possession, during which Grindle appeared to touch down, but was mysteriously pulled back for a Chiswick scrum. A long relieving kick got the Saints in a good position, and they earned a penalty. The successful kick gave the visitors the lead against the run of play.
The Saints tried a maul, only for Chiswick to hold the ball up long enough to gain a scrum. Matt Pickering, who had been prominent both in lineouts and in the open play, now succumbed to a leg problem, allowing Sam Hood to come on and immediately make his mark in a good Chiswick maul. John missed a difficult penalty kick, but another long clearance gave Grindle a second chance, and this time he burst between two defenders, and streaked for the corner, before drawing the cover defender and passing out to John for the touch-down. The kick fell short. Chiswick needed Tom Adams to produce a good tackle as the Saints’ forwards upped the pace, and he obliged, as per usual. A sin-binning gave Chiswick a temporary advantage as the match became a ding-dog affair, but it was the visitors who had a chance to go ahead again, a penalty kick falling just short. Chiswick then got a yellow card, and the Saints failed to maul over the line before eventually settling for three points just before the referee blew for half-time.
One player down, Chiswick attacked from the first kick, with props Tom Shattock and Rowan Tonkin bullying their way through the Saints’ pack. The Saints right-side defence was solid, aided by some careless passing by the Chiswick backs. When Chiswick were restored to full strength, the pressure began to pay off, and John soon stroked a wind-assisted kick between the uprights. Seven minutes later, Grindle picked up a loose ball, performed a one-two and hared off down the left touchline, with Jon Gibson and Ady Lewis in support. Gibson took on two defenders, and Lewis did the easy bit. John’s kick was good.
Chiswick were solid now, and Simon Hallett, coming on after weeks out injured, soon broke the line to give Gibson a chance to prove his strength, forcing his was over against a number of defenders for a deserved try. Hallett slotted the simple kick, which proved to be the final score, although the home pack got very close to two further tries, on the second occasion driving the Saints’ scrum back over the line, only, apparently, to commit a “technical” offence in so doing.
Chiswick team:- Shattock, Box, Tonkin, Joyce, Pickering, Adams, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, John, Steer, Gibson, Godfrey, Lewis, Grindle. Subs:- Joubert, Hood, Hallett
November 25, 2013