League Leaders Emerge Battered But Jubilant

Rugby Result: Chiswick 25 Hitchin 7

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In the end, in front of a crowd warmed only by the intensity of the play, the league leaders emerged battered but jubilant against determined opponents. Hitchin applied pressure from the start, and Chiswick conceded a number of penalties as neither team could put together any sustained move which satisfied the referee.

A kickable Hitchin penalty was taken astray by the sharp easterly wind but after a sustained threequarters move, the Chiswick team were sucked into a breakdown just outside their 22 only for the Hitchin flanker to emerge with the ball and a clear route to the posts. The conversion followed.

Aram Delaney and Rowan Tonkin began to gain ascendancy in the lineouts, and with the Chiswick scrum in charge, chances began to come the way of the home team. Tom Duffy just missed a penalty kick, and dropped passes and desperate ankle tackles kept Chiswick out. Eventually the tactic, perhaps over-used on the day, of the inside pass by the fly half, paid dividends. After Delaney had done well to collect a fly hack by a pressurised Hitchin team, Jan Joubert almost reached the line before Duffy gave the inside pass to Marc Jones, under full steam metres from the line. Duffy got the conversion.

Stuart Parmeter and Hansie Bezuidenhout ( Bez ) were into everything, and a charge from Bez from the kick-off gave John Gibson half a chance, but the Hitchin backs were quick to close him down. Ironic applause greeted a penalty decision in favour of Chiswick, and Duffy slotted this one to put Chiswick in front.
After a quiet start to the second half, Chiswick put the foot down, and finally Bez escaped from the back of the scrum into space, and timed his pass to Lewis Hammond perfectly. Hammond put Jones through, who took on three or four players. The ball came back to Bez who charged on through for a popular try. Duffy’s kick ballooned up and down far from the goal line. With Alistair Pickering off, Delaney took over the catching role efficiently. Duffy made a great swerving break but fell at the last hurdle.
Hitchin, at this point won clean lineout ball for almost the first time in the match, and their backs showed what they could do in attack. A flying tackle by Graham Robbings brought down their full back as he scorched down the right touch-line, but the visitors kept the pressure up, and although Chiswick did well to hold the ball up over the line after a sustained attack by the Hitchin forwards, penalties kept coming, and a simple penalty kick ensued. This was pushed wide however, and that was the last throw of the dice for Hitchin. Stung into top gear, the home team piled on the pressure and got a heel against the head. Bez won a turnover with a heavy tackle on the Hitchin flanker and Adie Lewis made a powerful break. Hammond put a long touch kick into the Hitchin 22. Robbings caught the Hitchin fly half in possession from the lineout. Keith Luckman, on for Tom Alcraft, got the ball out and Gibson cut through before finding Parmeter in support for the prop to fling himself over the line. The conversion failed, but the result was no longer in doubt.
Both teams opened out for the final few minutes. Jones went round his marker, but scorched down the wrong line, after a beautiful lob kick from Luckman found the wing in space ( the adjacent pitch was very adjacent ). Duffy failed with another penalty kick, but as time ran out Tom Adams caught the ball at the tail of the lineout and Chiswick were nearly through. Hitchin recovered but then knocked on. Lewis grabbed the ball and surged for the line. His pass out to Ben Cheston went straight through the hands of a tired Hitchin back, but Cheston was not fazed as he raced over the line for the coup de grace.

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

February 3, 2009