Chiswick Chances Blown Away in Crucial Fixture
Rugby Result : Gravesend 31 Chiswick 12
Chiswick charged at Gravesend with a strong wind at their backs in this crucial fixture, and dominated the first five minutes, with their forwards taking the ball into the home 22 early on and with Sam Hobbins and Heath McDonough making good ground when given the ball. In the first real Gravesend counter-attack, however, the role of the wind became apparent. A hopeful kick was well fielded by wing Tom Steer as it held up in the wind, but his pass back to full back Gabs Lowe was also held up, and when Lowe realised he had to kick quickly, his effort was well charged down, and as bad luck would have it, it bounced up just right for the charging player, who strolled in near the left corner. A miraculous banana-like conversion which started well left of the left post suggested this was not to be Chiswick’s day.
From the first Chiswick lineout, with the ball predictably veering into the oppositions’ hands, this area was a nightmare for the visitors, who did not win possession from one until the thirty second minute of the game. Gravesend revelled in the unexpected possession, and with Chiswick not able to put much pressure on the home scrums, it was only sterling defensive work that kept the visitors in the game. With the conditions crying out for grubber kicks, it took a long time for this tactic, which at the worst gave the home team the difficult task of throwing in to the lineouts, to be tried. Simon Hallett did have one early penalty kick at goal, from the right side, but the wind swung it just wide.
Eleven minutes into the game, Gravesend got another try, with a kick down the left being followed up by more attackers than there were defenders. The conversion kick proved impossible this time. Four minutes later, however, scrum half Luca Vannini made a break and found Jon Joyce in support. The No.6, ever eager to run, hurdled some attempted tackles in a thirty metre dash angled towards the left corner, before finding the flying Dan Sutherland outside him, who glided elegantly inwards past several defenders on his way to the line. Hallett’s kick just failed. Another five minutes passed, and then a lost lineout put Chiswick in danger, and a won lineout gave Gravesend possession on the Chiswick 22. Quick passing along the line allowed their right wing to circumnavigate the Chiswick defence. The kick reared up and dropped just short of the posts. Gravesend soon extended their lead when their forwards kept possession close to the Chiswick line until eventually going over for the fourth try. The kick succeeded.
Soon Chiswick were in further trouble, with a yellow card given for a high tackle, as a tall player failed to reach far enough down whilst being passed. Strangely, they now began to play better, as Gravesend took the pressure off, and although the scrums were now one-sided, play was generally more even. Hallett found a very long diagonal touch kick to set up a promising situation. At last a long lineout throw succeeded and the ball was swiftly out to the right wing. This move broke down, but on the stroke of half time, Vannini took a quick tap, and after surging runs by, amongst others, McDonough, Sam Leslie-Miller and Hobbins, Vannini got his fourth touch of the move, and found Tom Steer on an interesting diagonal run. Natty footwork took him all the way to the line, to grunts of appreciation by the home supporters. Hallett’s kick was the final score of the half.
Although Chiswick played better into the wind, they could not conjure up any more magic after an unlucky start when an over-enthusiastic kick off by Gravesend was allowed to continue, hopefully into the in goal area, and came back off the post. Chiswick survived this, but the first big home attack led to a further, converted, try and that was about that. The Chiswick pack did well to begin to get on top in the scrums, with James Filbey and Sam Biss coming on, and Lowe appearing happier at scrum half than full back, as Dan Purkiss came on for Vannini. There were plenty of half chances for the visitors, but no real cutting edge and despite their huge efforts, the forwards were left unrewarded.
Chiswick team:- McDonough, Dibble, Newman, Hobbins, Allen-Clarke, Joyce, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hallett, Sutherland, Godfrey, Burrows, Steer, Lowe; Filbey, Biss, Purkiss