Staines 10 – Chiswick 8
A blood red sunset was the final and fitting panoramic backdrop to a titanic struggle between two well-matched teams, the result knocking Chiswick off second spot in the League table. The numerous and vociferous home supporters cheered their team off as if they had won the League; not many had been confident of victory. Injuries and non-availability however had taken their toll on the Chiswick team, but they compounded this with a failure to take all of the few crumbs offered them as the efficient Staines pack dominated the scrums and took more than their share of the lineouts.
Staines, with the wind, were three points up within moments when Chiswick were penalised in front of their posts. Simon Hallett’s first kick for touch gained only a couple of metres, giving due warning to the lineout throwers. A chip kick into the wind on Chiswick’s first attack seemed a reasonable idea, but Staines were packing the middle of the park and momentum was lost.
Jon Joyce secured the first clean lineout possession for Chiswick after five minutes, and quick passing involving Hallett, Noble and Sutherland gave Tom Steer the chance to sprint at the opposing wing. Cutting inside, Steer chipped forward and beat the full back, forced to turn, to the ball. The wing failed to gather it, but Hallett, following up, succeeded, and scored left of the posts. Unfortunately ( as it transpired ), he then missed the kick. At the time, it did not appear to matter, after such a good move.
The first scrum retreat of the day belonged to Chiswick, and Sam Leslie-Miller had to make the first of many miraculous retrievals of the afternoon. The stalwart Chraplewczyk then had to retire with a calf problem. Chiswick wasted a five metre lineout when the throw went beyond the line, but Staines were lucky that an ensuing knock back finished in the hands of a defender. A good counter-attack followed, but ended with a blatant forward pass which the referee could not miss. Staines now began a period of domination, with attacks down each wing. Chiswick’s defence was excellent, but sustained pressure by the home forwards in successive scrums when they finally reached the Chiswick 22 nearly produced a pushover try, and then forced a short clearance kick after brave efforts by Jon Gibson and Jon Joyce to run the ball. Chiswick survived another scrum in their 22, but finally succumbed to the Staines pack power, in injury time, as the home team surged over the line. The kick was good, and Staines were five points up. Reduced to fourteen players by a yellow card, Chiswick still mounted a good attack just before half-time, after a Hallett charge down, but Noble’s penetrating chip bounced unkindly.
Despite the following wind, which they signally failed to exploit, Chiswick could only score a penalty goal, through Hallett, in a second half which was exciting, but lacking scintillating moves. Staines continued their scrum domination, but could not break down an obdurate Chiswick defence. Towards the end, Chiswick’s pressure led to a couple of chances of kicks at goal, but they went for the lineouts instead, and on one occasion mauled to within feet of the home line : the final thrust or jink was missing, however.
Chiswick team :- Chraplewczyk, Dibble, Joubert, Joyce, Fatsis, Adams, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hallett, Steer, Gibson, Noble, Ulyet, Sutherland, El-Akabi, Cooper, Dovey