Chiswick 20 Welwyn 17
Author: D Lovell
In a noisy finale, Chiswick clung on to their precarious lead, aided by knock on when their goal line was at the mercy of a Welwyn attack which had had some inspired spells of play. On a glorious afternoon, such spells, with Chiswick also having their share of multi-phase attacks, although depending more on long kicks, were not frequent enough, unfortunately.
Where Chiswick dominated was in their mauling, and with parity in the scrums and lineouts, together with competent defending, that was just enough. Their tackling looked gentile, compared with that of Welwyn, however, and could perhaps have been lower and stronger. Within a minute what appeared to be verging on a spear tackle by a Welwyn centre went unpunished. The debutant Chiswick full-back Rob Barton was soon called to deal with bouncing balls, the first successfully, the second less so as the ball refused to co-operate: the cover defence was excellent, however, and Welwyn could not quite cash in.
Play was frenetic for quite a while, with Welwyn doing a bit more of the attacking. Dan Purkiss did well in an exposed situation in the Chiswick 22 to follow the side steps of the opposing wing and get him into touch.
A few mistakes by Welwyn thwarted some good play, and then, on twenty minutes, and after some consultation with captains, Welwyn got a yellow card for a high tackle, and Chiswick a yellow for retaliation. The ensuing penalty kick to touch presaged a long Chiswick attack which could have been more dangerous but the lineout ball was slow and the Welwyn defence fierce. A counter-attack by Welwyn down the middle was stopped by a vital strong tackle by Marc Copperwheat. Chiswick in turn countered through Barton, who was taken out after trying a long kick down the left touchline. So another Welwyn yellow. Further controversy followed, as Harry Cox’s penalty kick was adjudged to have gone into touch in flight, rather than straight into touch-in goal. Rich Bryan collared the lineout throw, and a Mini Cooper of a maul rocketed over the line, with the hard-working Stewy Parmeter clasping the ball. Cox’s kick just missed its target. Half-time soon followed.
Welwyn reduced the arrears with a simple penalty kick a couple of minutes into the second half, and soon Tom Steer had to prove his mettle in defence with a good clearance kick as the pressure increased. Welwyn now missed another simple penalty kick. A relieved Chiswick responded and Barton suddenly erupted down the pitch after Leslie-Miller had made a good break from a scrum. His long kick was recovered, just, by the Welwyn defence, but illegally. The referee played advantage, and James Bunbury appeared to have scored following a clever grubber kick by Chris Hitchcock. The ball had crossed the dead ball line, unfortunately, and Cox then missed the penalty kick.
Fifteen minutes in, Chiswick scored a second mauling try, again from the home 22 line, and again it was Parmeter who got the touch down. This time Cox slotted the kick. The kick-off was a splendid high back-spinner claimed by the charging home players. Welwyn kept up the pressure, and their inside centre completely wrong-footed the Chiswick defence with a subtle sway of the shoulders. The conversion followed. Immediate retaliation was called for, and arrived via Steer and Bryan, with Bunbury streaking through the defence before finding Steer on the outside, to score in the corner. Cox’s kick was not quite good enough. Welwyn responded by again recovering the restart kick – another cracker.
With ten minutes to go, Welwyn equalised following a bullocking run with vigorous hand-offs had breached the middle of the Chiswick defence. Chiswick managed a third charge-down of the match, but yet again could not benefit from it. Sub Simon Allen-Clarke now proved his worth in the middle of the back line, with a surge into the home 22, leading to a penalty right in front of the posts. Cox obliged and the slender lead was forged. Not great rugby, but a win for a determined team.
Chiswick team: Barkham, Dibble, Parmeter, Bryan, Copperwheat, Gadsby, Lopes, Leslie-Miller, Cox, Hitchcock, Purkiss, Burrows, Bunbury, Steer, Barton; Randall, Allen-Clarke, Roberts