Rugby Cup Semi-Final Thriller

Rugby Result: Chiswick 24 Hammersmith 19

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Matches between Chiswick and Hammersmith are always tasty. With benevolent weather, but an unusually muddy Riverside pitch, both teams staggered off at the end, having given their all. The prize was a Middlesex Final against the London 1 North Civil Service 1863 team. Two years ago, Civil Service won a Middlesex Cup semi-final against Chiswick 49-13, but fourteen years ago, there was a 13-12 result, and before that a rare 0-0 result, so Chiswick will feel they’re in with a shout.

Both teams started off playing good handling rugby, with Hammersmith having the edge and testing the excellent Chiswick full-back with some well-flighted kicks. He proved up to it, like Mike Brown and Liam Williams later in the day. Hammersmith failed with a long penalty kick early on, but after eight minutes a neat move put their outside centre away from the half-way line, and although Sutherland got back and made a good tackle, the Hammers support was up and their No.8 and captain scored close to the posts. 7-0 to the Div 2 North-West visitors. Under some pressure, Chiswick nearly gifted another try almost immediately, and only a quick-witted Tom Steer rescued the situation. The scrums were fairly even, but the Hammers No.8 was given too much room in the lineouts, and their work there was a lot slicker than that of the home team.

There was plenty of spirit and effort being put in by the home players, however, and it was Dan Purkiss who prevented what appeared to be a certain try as another slick Hammers’ move ripped apart the left side of the Chiswick defence. Chiswick came straight back, and with a rejuvenated Sam Leslie-Miller doing his trademark pirouettes from a good home scrum, both centres and both wings were brought into the action before Purkiss found Sutherland speeding outside him to round the defence and score wide out. Simon Hallett’s well-judged kick bounced over the bar from the inside of the far post, and it was all square.

Chiswick survived another scare when a long Hammersmith clearance after a period of home pressure would have led to a try but for the leading chaser falling over. The tide turned in favour of Chiswick after they achieved a turnover in midfield. Scrum-half Adam Ross broke and kicked intelligently for the corner, allowing Jamie Millais to show his pace. Hammersmith blocked the follow-up, and were duly penalised and received a yellow card. After a number of unsuccessful plunges for the line, after a tap penalty, with Hayden Watene prominent, Ross spun the ball along the line, and a broken tackle allowed Steer to score in the left corner. Hallett produced another brilliant conversion and the whistle for half-time followed.

Chiswick made a bright start to the second half, with Rikki Darroch showing a great appetite for the ball upon his return to the first team, and the home team would probably have scored, with a three to two overlap, except that an eye was taken off the ball, which fell to the ground. Not to be denied, Chiswick turned over a scrum, with the return of Tom Dean to the team being an important factor. A pick-up and carry by Leslie-Miller took play to within five metres of the line, and Watene’s plunge was successful on this occasion. Hallett’s third conversion was a relative gimme.

Chiswick had two subs on early, with Stu Parmeter and Sam Hood replacing James Dibble and Hayden Watene. Hallett had to rescue Chiswick after the Hammersmith No.10 had broken a couple of tackles. Darroch limped off to allow Jon Joyce into the fray after a high tackle allowed Hammersmith to set up a five metre lineout. The ball was eventually spun along the line and an attacker dragged the defender over the line to put Hammersmith right back into the game. A couple of attempts at the conversion failed, the latter only marginally, after Chiswick had charged too soon.

Chiswick had a good period of play in which they had a try disallowed for a forward pass which appeared distinctly marginal, and in which Jon Joyce had the ball ripped off him as he went for the line. To add insult to injury, Hammersmith then scored a try after a very forward looking pass, and converted it to set up a nail-biting final session before the whistle brought relief for the home team.

Chiswick team:- McDonough, Dibble, Dean, Watene, Allen-Clarke, Copperwheat, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Ross, Hallett, Purkiss, Godfrey, Millais, Steer, Sutherland; Chraplewczyk, Hood, Joyce, Lowe, Harper

March 14, 2016