Injuries for Chiswick Change Balance of Game

Rugby Result : Chiswick 12 Gravesend 24


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Gravesend supporters were nervous upon hearing that Chiswick had beaten Civil Service 1863 in the Middlesex Cup Final this year (39-37!), having apparently never beaten them.

Their apprehension seemed justified in the the first half when Chiswick were generally on top in their first ever match against this long-established and thriving Club, relegated from National 3 at the end of last season. Gravesend had an early edge, with a long period of possession after Chiswick failed to deal with the kick-off. The home defence held firm, however, and a wild pass behind the Gravesend wing lifted the siege. With Sam Hobbins taking a clean catch from the lineout, Dan Godfrey, restored to the team, eventually found a good touch upfield.

Gravesend’s kicker missed a good early chance to put three points on the board, and when Chiswick attacked they knocked on a good opportunity right in front of the posts. Twelve minutes in, however, a sustained home attack suddenly found Godfrey shooting through a gap, and although he was brought down short of the line, the ball was neatly handled out to the left wing, where Jamie Millais had enough room to get in at the corner. Simon Hallett’s conversion kick was a beauty.

After mucking up dealing with the kick-off again, Chiswick once more came under sustained pressure, but managed to hold the visitors up right on the line, before getting a good touch kick in. A few minutes later Simon Allen-Clarke made a powerful break down the centre of the field, following a scrappy lineout, only to be stopped on the Gravesend 22. Hallett, Sam Leslie-Miller, Bunbury and Sam Hobbins were then all involved before Hallett slipped the ball to prop Stewie Parmeter, who scored a popular try. Hallett’s kick came back off the post.

Being in the lead seemed to fluster Chiswick a little, and some poor decisions and dodgy passes spoilt a few good chances of going further ahead. Luck then deserted the home team, with Marc Copperwheat, Barnaby Ware and newcomer Rich Bryan, at No.7, all sustaining injuries. The latter had been making a big contribution to the team effort with his support play, as indeed had the other two, and although he stayed on the pitch for quite a while, his mobility suffered. Copperwheat soldiered on, and soon produced a try-saving tackle, whilst the unlucky Ware had to go off eventually. Half time came with no further score, but the balance had begun to change.

After a scrappy restart by both teams, Gravesend began to apply steady pressure, and a slick move involving three players led to a touchdown for a second row man. The kick was good. The Chiswick play got a bit ragged, with some poor reactions compared with the lively first half, as Gravesend upped the tempo, and Chiswick felt the need to respond in kind. Ten minutes in Gravesend reduced the gap with a penalty kick.

With subs Tom Steer and Jon Joyce coming on, Chiswick should have been able to fight back, but the stalwarts, Leslie-Miller and Simon Hallett, were both under huge pressure, the former partly because the Chiswick scrum was beginning to go backwards, and both of them by the desire to be in every move and put in a great number of tackles.

With a bit more space, the Gravesend backs became more threatening, and their centre made a clean break from way out. Slowing down to beat the last defender, he was caught from behind by Leslie-Miller, but the Chiswick captain could not hold on long enough, and the Gravesend man wriggled free to score under the posts. It was soon 17-12, with Chiswick looking for a losing bonus point. It was not to be. Gravesend got over the line again, with just a hint of a forward pass in the move, and the conversion was good. In fact they got over the line again, but only with the aid of a blatant forward pass.

Steer eventually got a pass on a rare Chiswick attack, after good work by Joyce, Leslie-Miller and Copperwheat, and skipped through a couple of tackles before racing to the Gravesend 22. Scrum half Rich Stratford was up in support, but Gravesend got a turnover. At the final whistle, the weary-legged home team were on the attack, but could not get those five points.

Chiswick team:- Cooper, Dibble, Parmeter, Allen-Clarke, Hobbins, Copperwheat, Bryan, Leslie-Miller, Stratford, Hallett, Ware, Godfrey, Bunbury, Millais, Lowe; Gnatyuk, Joyce, Steer

November 28, 2016

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