Brighton Strike Gold At The Death
With twenty minutes to go, Chiswick were right in this match, with the score 11-11, containing, albeit with a great deal of effort, a fit and physical Brighton team who were playing with a gale force wind behind them. Normally to keep play in or near the opponents’ half would be the target. However, on a big pitch, and with tiring Chiswick legs, Brighton found large spaces behind their opponents, into which to kick the ball, and Chiswick were undone. It was as if at the end of a fruitless day’s metal detecting, the final run had thrown up four pieces of medieval jewellery.The first half was a fairly even battle, but Chiswick struggled at the lineouts, and as a result had to do more tackling. Also, they failed to take advantage of a difficult wind which was mainly in their favour. A spell of Brighton pressure fifteen minutes into the game did produce a try, when after a number of home lineouts near the line had been well-defended, the home fly half sprinted round to join two of the Brighton backs as the ball was passed left to right along the line. The Chiswick defence failed to respond to the danger, and he got clean through for a good try, which was not converted.
Seven minutes later, after Simon Hallett’s long touch kick had taken Chiswick into the home 22, a high tackle gave Chiswick a penalty and Hallett stroked the kick confidently between the posts. Brighton responded with a penalty goal, the result of a verdict of “killing the ball”.
A yellow card for failure to roll away quickly enough did not help Chiswick’s cause, but they nearly got a try when a box kick by restored scrum half Luca Vannini was brilliantly taken by Dan Sutherland, only for the wing to be tap-tackled before he could really get into his stride. A fight between four of the players was studiously ignored by the referee, and Chiswick were restored to a full team without losing any points.
After an error-strewn couple of minutes at the beginning of the second half the home full back tried a kick for goal from his own half which fell well short. Chiswick then had a good attack after a short kick by Hallett was recovered by Jamie Milais, and sub Mark Copperwheat and James Dibble joined in the move. A penalty resulted, and Hallett amazingly managed to banana a kick over the bar against the gale. Another short kick by Hallett worked well, and with captain Sam Leslie-Miller and hooker Dibble ripping balls from the opponents, the significance of two young home forward subs warming up after ten minutes was not immediately apparent. At this stage Chiswick were having their best phase. With Hallett, Milais, and Dibble in the van, they made steady progress towards the left corner. Joe Grindle joined in with a swerving run, followed by several forward rolls. Brighton were caught offside, and a quick tap by Vannini and a pass to Shattock led to a try by Copperwheat. The kick, from the left touch-line, was never on, but Chiswick, with no points from away fixtures, were in the lead, with twenty eight minutes to go.
Brighton now brought on their two subs and immediately the re-invigorated pack managed a twenty metre maul. A bullet touch kick by Hallett relieved the pressure temporarily as Brighton stormed up to near the Chiswick line, but the home team kept probing, and after twenty minutes they equalised with a good penalty kick. What happened next was the beginning of the nightmare for Chiswick. A hopeful kick by Brighton went straight to Grindle. He advanced, but with no close support tried a kick towards the right corner. With the Chiswick team heading in this direction, the wind swept the ball across-field towards the left, where the home No.7, with local knowledge, was waiting for it. A sprint down the line, with support from the wing, resulted in a try from a grubber kick despite the brave but despairing attempt by Dan Sutherland to get his hands on it first. The kick failed, and Chiswick applied some pressure of their own, Leslie-Miller getting very close to the home line.
As Chiswick tried harder to get back into the game, they got careless in defence, and a hack forward produced another break-away try, duly converted. Points were still on at this stage, and a dazzling seventy metre swerving run by Grindle took him to within a couple of yards of the home line, where the slippery conditions and a double-tackle finally brought him down. Chiswick failed to take advantage of this position, and to add to their misery, whilst Tom Dean was writhing on the ground, five metres from the home line, with probable ligament damage, after a surge towards the posts, Brighton scored another breakaway try, with Sutherland again just failing to catch their No.11 before the line. A further try followed, both being converted, as Brighton exploited the situation to the full. Lessons can be learnt from this defeat – nobody was guilty of giving less than 100%, but the final score did not seem a fair reflection on the relative merits of the teams.
November 13, 2015