Grasshoppers Fail To Take Off

Rugby result :- Chiswick 24 Grasshoppers 14

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Much effort, and no little skill, was displayed in this good open match, where the excellent referee more or less dispensed with penalties. Unfortunately, poor handling and some careless passes produced a rather scrappy, albeit end-to-end game. The heavier Grasshoppers pack proved stronger in the scrums, but with new boy James Dibble on target with his throws, the skill of Sam Hood made life difficult for the visitors in the lineouts. Rowan Tonkin also did well at the tail, so both teams had plenty of possession.

Simon Hallett showed early intent, getting up first to a speculative Luckman lob kick, only for the ball to veer away from his out-stretched foot. The main Grasshoppers tactic was apparent early on, when, their attempted maul having been stopped, the ball was moved to a large inside centre, who took as many tacklers as possible, the ball then being re-circulated to a lively No.15 ( one of two ). With Ben Kelly tackling like a demon, with the rest of the Chiswick team not far behind, this did not produce much yardage, and eventually a pass would go astray. The visitors wasted their first scrum gain with crossing, and Tom Duffy drove them well downfield with his kick. Chiswick attacked, but dropped the ball. Adie Lewis did well to take a kick, and escape two attackers, simultaneously. Keith Luckman was handling the ball like the proverbial bar of soap, but after fifteen minutes managed to get the ball out to Tonkin in a rare handling move. Dibble carried on, and Luckman then found Lewis in oceans of space. Lewis spotted Duffy cruising up on the outside, and Duffy stayed in front of the pursuers to the corner. He then slotted a fairly difficult kick.

A couple of minutes later and five patient phases of Chiswick possession in the Grasshoppers’ 22 culminated in a try for John Gibson, as he took a cunning line to the posts close to the referee. Duffy had no problem with this kick. The visitors tried an aerial bombardment on Chris Halliwell, but failed to disturb him. Hansie Bezuidenhout was doing well behind the retreating scrum when Chiswick managed a heel, but the soap seemed to remain on the ball, as it kept on slipping out of fingers.

Hood kept deflecting the Grasshoppers throws when they were in good attacking positions, but the visitors were slowly increasing their pressure. They thought they had scored after mauling Chiswick back over the line. Unfortunately it was the wrong line, and they were five metres short. Even the referee was fooled for a few moments, awarding, and then revoking the try. Their pack went for the pushover, but collapsed at the last moment, allowing Chiswick to scramble forward over the ball and achieve the turnover. It was cut-and thrust as the interval beckoned, until a sudden break by the Grasshoppers’ left wing exposed the home defence, and the last ditch Lewis tackle merely diverted the speedster, who managed to touch down just before the dead ball line ( it’s a very short distance to said line at Riverside ). A great kick followed.

The second half started with Gabriel Lowe nicking the ball behind the Grasshoppers scrum in the Grasshoppers’ 22. The visitors defence was good as Chiswick spun the ball fast along their line, and remained organised as the pressure was maintained. After ten minutes, the visitors reversed the situation, and began to hammer the home defence. Hallett got his first interception of the day but this merely took the heat off for a few minutes, during which Luckman broke the visitors’ line only to fail to link with Duffy outside him. The lighter Grasshoppers’ No.15 got through a couple of tackles as he crashed into the home 22, and quick re-cycling, and heavyweight support on the attacker’s shoulder produced a try for the visitors. The conversion was from in front of the posts.

It looked for a moment as if the pressure might overcome the lighter home team, but they steadied the ship. James Hitchmough came on for Lowe, and it was he who made the telling break and set up a late try for Gibson, after a hamstrung Lewis was replaced by Matt Cooper, Kelly being pushed out to the wing. Before the try, Hallett had done well to recover a loose ball inches from the Chiswick posts after an attempted dropped goal had dropped just short. Duffy rubbed it in with a late penalty kick.

Chiswick :- Donaldson ( Parmeter ), Dibble, Addison, Hood, Tonkin, Morris, Kelly, Bezuidenhout, Lowe ( Hitchmough ), Luckman, Duffy, Hallett, Gibson, Halliwell, Lewis ( Cooper )

February 14, 2011