Chiswick Improve But Leave Empty-Handed
Rugby Result : Chiswick 8 Tunbridge Wells 19
After last week’s debacle, Chiswick had to improve, and they did, hugely. They were not good enough on the day to beat a good young Tunbridge team, deservedly near the top of the table, but will feel they deserved a bonus point for effort – losing by eleven points does not earn that, unfortunately.
From the kick-off, Tunbridge pressed hard, whilst retaining possession, using short passes. When Chiswick got their hands on the ball, a good burst by their captain Sam Leslie-Miller, dragging defenders with him, gave clear notice of intent. Scrums and lineouts were evenly contested, but Tunbridge were a little more penetrative in their attacks, orchestrated by their excellent fly half, against a team tackling determinedly and effectively.
Within ten minutes, however, a large Tunbridge prop, festooned with defenders, rumbled well into the home 22, and despite a great try-saving tackle by Jon Joyce from an ensuing scrum, the ball was worked out to the right wing, who was given far too much room, and scored a try in the corner. The kick was just short. Chiswick came back strongly, with the forwards leading a charge into the Tunbridge 22. Sam Hobbins lost the ball, but it went backwards, and he rapidly retrieved it. Tunbridge were then penalised, and Simon Hallett found a good touch. The ensuing maul almost reached the try-line, but not quite, and after sustained home pressure, Tunbridge were awarded a relieving penalty. Matt Cooper had to go off injured, and was replaced by Stewie Parmeter.
Going in to the second quarter the play became a bit scrappy, with hopeful kicks and dropped passes proliferating. A Chiswick dropped pass led to the next try, a quick heel, for once, by Tunbridge, preceding a mid-field burst through the defensive line. The wing was stopped just short of the home line, but a couple of inside passes exposed a hole in the defence, and Tunbridge were soon 12-0 up. Tunbridge’s passing was rarely very backward, and the referee’s whistle started breaking up some of their moves, giving Chiswick some territorial gains. A hopeful kick by Tunbridge just before half-time might have given Chiswick a chance to counter-attack, but the ball was knocked on. No matter. Tunbridge, sensing an opportunity from the following scrum, tried a quick move down the right wing, only for it to be anticipated by Dan Purkiss, who kept just ahead of a chasing group all the way to the try line. For once, Hallett missed a fairly easy kick.
Chiswick nearly scored at the beginning of the second half, with Hobbins charging down a clearance kick, but they again showed a lack of finishing power, retaining possession, but failing to get over the try line. Eventually they gained a penalty, and Hallett reduced the margin to four points. Tunbridge retaliated, and thought they had scored when their No.4 got over the line after a good maul, but the ball was held up, with Russ Dovey underneath. Using longer passes now, Tunbridge kept up pressure on the home team, who were unfortunate to have wing Tom Steer yellow-carded when trying to smother-tackle an attacker who had several players on the overlap outside him. A chapter of errors following a lineout in the home 22 almost led to a Tunbridge try in the right corner, but when the ball was whipped across to the left, there were three players who could have got the touch down. An excellent kick added the points.
Chiswick continued to battle well right to the end, with subs Rikki Darroch, on at half-time, and Gabs Lowe making significant introductions into the game. Despite Tunbridge looking rattled on occasions under the home pressure, and having a yellow card of their own before the end, no home player could make a really telling break. The home mauls always looked as though they might lead to a score, one gaining at least twenty metres, but Chiswick could not capitalise on this advantage.
Chiswick team:- Cooper, Dibble, Newman, Hobbins, Joyce, Copperwheat. Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Hallett, Purkiss, Harper, Godfrey, Steer, Sutherland; Parmeter, Darroch, Lowe