Result:- Grasshoppers 18 Chiswick 23
The magnificent new Club House in black and yellow dominates the artificial pitch at the Grasshoppers new ground on the other side of Syon Lane from the old ground. The forwards appreciated the grip their studs got at the scrums, where the visitors generally held an advantage, and it encouraged some exciting running by the backs, where the home team often had Chiswick in some trouble, especially down the left side.
Caption: The view from Grasshoppers new clubhouse.
Grasshoppers missed a chance to go ahead early on, a penalty kick sliding to the left of the posts. As happens normally, Jon Joyce was heavily involved from the off for Chiswick who had to resist sustained early pressure from the home players, who were being roared on by a large contingent of supporters celebrating this inaugural match. The Chiswick backs soon settled down, but a good move involving Ed Peach, Marc Copperwheat and Ollie Snook ended abruptly when Max Burrows hit a solid group of home players. When Chiswick got close to the home line, they squandered a lineout opportunity with an over-long throw, an old Chiswick failing. Joyce took a quick tap, which nearly created a rare opening, but generally the early play was scrappy with the ball getting lost regularly in the tackles or knocked on and possession ricocheting between the teams.
Scrum half Eitan Humphreys made an eye-catching run for Chiswick, but the move fizzled out for lack of close support. A searing break by Burrows was stopped by a desperate flailing arm catching his ankle, and then the referee decided there was some crossing involved in a fairly straightforward-looking threequarters move as Chiswick looked set to open the scoring. The unfortunate George Bibby, having put in a series of good tackles, had to retire with a hip problem, and Chris Hitchcock came on as sub. Simon Allen-Clarke rescued his team-mates as Grasshoppers tried to maul over from a lineout, finishing up with the ball in his hands and pats on the back. After half an hour the stalemate was broken, with Snook kicking a penalty goal after sustained Chiswick pressure near the home line, with Ben Kelly prominent in the moves. He was then the second to retire, with a damaged hamstring. Four minutes later Grasshoppers levelled the scores, and they kept up the pressure until half-time, despite losing a prop to a knee injury.
With James Filbey on for Dibble at half-time, the first scrum saw the Grasshoppers pack in retreat, and the subsequent penalty kick was slotted neatly by Snook. Another good down-field kick by Snook led to Joyce gathering the ball and galloping towards the posts. The ball eventually went loose and after a good inside kick by Tom Steer, the final bounce favoured Chiswick, with Humphreys getting the touch-down. The kick failed. A home penalty kick just failed, and then a bit of argy-bargy led to two yellow cards and a home scrum in Chiswick’s 22. Chiswick won this one and Humphreys cleared the ball up-field. The home full back enjoyed the time he had and opened out with a long pass left. Two Grasshoppers raced down the touch line and the resultant try caused an eruption of noise from the crowd. No conversion followed.
With both teams back to fifteen, it was a disrupted home scrum that allowed Humphreys to seize a loose ball and hare over under the posts for his second try, duly converted by Snook. He soon made it a hat-trick after a break down the right wing by Joyce. This time the kick failed. Grasshoppers came straight back with a good sustained attack down the left, scoring right in the corner. A superb conversion followed, leaving the home team eight points in the arrears. Chiswick should have got a bonus-point fourth try, with a five metre lineout, but again the throw was just too long, and it was the home team who picked up a point with a penalty goal after ascertaining that time would be called immediately after.
Newman, Dibble (c), Allen-Clarke, Copperwheat, Hood, Kelly, Gadsby, Joyce, Humphreys, Snook, Steer, Bibby, Burrows, Peach, Purkiss; Filbey, Biss, Hitchcock
T: Hymphreys (3)
P: Snook (2)
Author: D Lovell