Chiswick Hammered at Hurlingham

Rugby result: Hammersmith 50 Chiswick 19

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The gulf between unbeaten Hammersmith and the rest of the Division became clear as a ruthlessly efficient display reduced Chiswick’s hopes of a play-off place to a faint glimmer. The home full back’s magnificent kicking was matched by some exciting open rugby producing ten tries.

Two minutes into the game, and Chiswick make their first mistake. Failure to release provided the home kicker with a chance from near the left touchline. Wet ground notwithstanding, the kick was sure, the ball just clearing the centre of the bar, and Chiswick had received due warning. Hammersmith made a couple of probing long kicks and Chris Hallewell got hammered in taking one of these. Glen Tucker’s slightly errant first throw-in brought the best out of Ollie Hire, and Chiswick needed lineout ball with their scrum under some pressure. With Sam Hood’s brilliance as well, Chiswick had some good possession, but Hammersmith set two or three players on Simon Hallett, stifling one of Chiswick’s main attacking options.

For fifteen minutes Chiswick were solid in defence, but then a long relieving kick upfield, parallel to the right touchline, by Tom Duffy, was run back. A long diagonal kick to the right corner caught the Chiswick defence out of position, and although one flanker got back to tackle the home winger, the full back scored on the follow-up. The conversion from the right touchline was equally perfect. Hammersmith were lucky when a neat grubber kick by Keith Luckman found space behind the home defence, only for the Chiswick player in pursuit to be baulked ( legitimately ) by an outstretched Hammersmith leg. A quick decision to run the ball back paid dividends for the home team, with the Chiswick defence out of position again, and they eventually scored near the posts, for an easy conversion. The Chiswick front row were boisterous in the loose, but the backs were making little progress. The confident Hammersmith team got in loads of passes and made Chiswick look pedestrian at times.

Hammersmith continued inexorably in the second half, after Chiswick had made a bright start. The next try came from a neat chip-kick behind the Chiswick wing, whose despairing dive was just short of the ball, which was reached by the home wing before going dead. The Chiswick scrum became lighter with the replacement of an injured Matt Cooper by a fired-up Rory Fletcher. Hammersmith were running the ball all the time now, and there were numerous pairs of hands in the next try, duly converted as had been the previous one. Another soon followed, taking the score to 38-0.

Chiswick were provoked by the disdain being shown, and as Hammersmith tried to run the ball out of defence, Hallett obtained the ball somehow, and got close before it was spun along the line by Luca Vannini, Hood and Hire handling it on to Hallewell who touched down near the left corner. Duffy scuffed his kick, but Chiswick heads were up now as Tucker dealt confidently with the kick-off, as usual. Chiswick pressured up into the home 22, where Fletcher and Jan Joubert surged into the home defence. Hammersmith were penalised, and Vannini took a quick tap – back over his shoulder! This manoeuvre baffled everyone, and he was allowed to catch the ball gratefully and dive over the line. Duffy could not miss this one, and Chiswick were on a mini-roll. More pressure, and Chiswick were camped on the home line for some minutes, but the home defence held.

The play was still mainly in the home half, but when Duffy repeated a long upfield kick, Hammersmith had three players back for it, one being their excellent left wing, who weaved his way past almost all of the Chiswick team before putting their centre in for a cracking try, the kicking points being added. Chiswick were down, but not out, and more pressure near the home line led to Ben Kelly scoring after Gabriel Lowe had gone very close. Duffy got the final points, and minutes later the drenched teams trudged back to the Club house.

Chiswick team: Addison (Donaldson), Tucker, Joubert, Hood, Hire, Morris, Kelly, Cooper (Fletcher), Vannini (Malone), Luckman, Hallewell, Hallett, Gibson, Lowe, Duffy

March 1, 2011