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Rugby Result: Old Ashmoleans 23 Chiswick 16

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Earlier league results suggested a critical match for both teams, and certainly Chiswick were hyped up for this one. Initial probes by the visitors were repulsed at the expense of a penalty. Tom Duffy slotted a beauty from 35 metres, and indeed in the still and warm conditions kicking was an accurate science.

Ashmoleans were careful after this and the game proceeded with good home defence negating a lot of Chiswick possession. The occasional home attacks usually comprised high kicks by their scrumhalf or fly half, and the assured Lewis Hammond was soon in the thick of it.

Chiswick were being pushed back in the scrums on occasions, but Ashmoleans generally failed to take advantage. The excellent referee was keen to insist on tacklers rolling quickly away from the ball, and the play was fast and furious. A burst through the middle by the home right wing spelt danger, but Hammond got in an excellent tackle.

Scrumhalf Nico Fryer was having a difficult time behind the retreating pack, and a poor pass out put the Chiswick midfield under stress. Despite Ben Cheston’s neat pass back through his legs, Ashmoleans gained a five-metre penalty, and equalised the scores.

Fryer managed to slip the ball to Adie Lewis at the next retreating scrum, and captain John Gibson made a great break, only to find the strategically positioned home flanker with his pass. Graham Robbings was heavily involved, and soon Duffy had another kick for goal. This missed by a whisker. The home mauls were getting nowhere under the ELVs, and prop Stuart Parmeter did well to nick the ball from a collapsed maul. Fryer’s passing was still suspect, but Marc Jones eventually got a pass in a bit of space. The home No.8 just caught his ankle from behind just when he appeared to be through.

Intense pressure by the home team pinned Chiswick on the goal line, and the visitors’ defence was exemplified with a great try-saving tackle by hooker Jan Joubert. Fryer did brilliantly to get the ball eventually from the back of the home team’s pack at a five scrum, and Lewis’s kick raised the siege. A knock back by Tom Adams at a lineout near the home team gave Cheston a chance, and Adams featured again with a good tackle minutes later. Parmeter had a good run down the line, but nothing came of it, so all-square as the referee blew for half time. We then realised that a home forward was lying on the ground. It turned out (probably) to be a serious neck injury. The player was concussed, and an ambulance was sent for. Unfortunately, access to the field was prevented by an over-full car park (many football pitches are in the same park), and the medics had to walk to the incident.

Eventually the match restarted, but it was clear that Chiswick were even more hyped up than before, with the result that they muffed several moves, and made some bad mistakes. Early on though, things went well, with Hammond feeding Jones, who forced his way through several tackles to score, after Duffy had intelligently shifted the play away from the side where Parmeter was the only “back”. The kick just failed.

The low sun caused Chiswick problems at the kick-off, but a dropped ball spelt relief. This was temporary, as superstar Jones picked up an injury and had to come off, to be replaced by Keith Luckman. Minutes later a poor pass led to mayhem in the Chiswick midfield on the goal line, and a poor kick gave the home team a five-metre lineout. A simple move across the field left the right wing going outside one Chiswick player and inside the wing, who was left covering an empty-handed home player. The simple kick failed, and still nothing separated these two worthy challengers for the league title.

An over-ambitious move near the home line brought disaster to Chiswick, the home wing getting in a good hoof to the loose ball, and winning the four-man chase all the way to the Chiswick line. The kick was pulled left. Two successful penalty kicks put the home team further ahead, and Chiswick got more frantic. Duffy got three points back, and the game was still there to be won. Unfortunately the pack then lost one against the head in their 22, and the home No.8 managed to shake off three tackles to dive over under the posts, leading to a simple conversion.

Chiswick came back desperately, and were inches from the home line several times before giving away a kick, which was put smartly into touch after the referee had indicated the last move of the match

Chiswick team: - Matulick, Joubert, Parmeter, McConnell ( Tonkin ), Delaney, Adams ( Bezuidenhout ), Pickering, Robbings, Fryer, Duffy, Lewis, Gibson, Cheston, Jones ( Luckman ), Hammond

October 16, 2008