Chiswick 21 Staines 29
Re-structuring your back division for the second match of the season is not ideal, but gifting a generous number of mistakes as well proved costly for a very disappointed Chiswick team who failed to repeat their Middlesex Cup success against the demoted Staines. Andy John came in at scrum-half, and proved an able link between the pack and Simon Hallett at fly half, but the dynamic exuberance of Joe Grindle was missed at full back where Dave Hill had a number of unfortunate moments, whilst doing his best to get a rather stagnant threequarter line going. For similar reasons, Jon Joyce and Rikki Darroch were missed up front.
Staines kicked off towards the river, and Sam Hood had to deal with several opponents and the ball simultaneously, a feature of each of Staines’ kickoffs. Chiswick had a lot of ball early on, but failed to penetrate a solid Staines defence. After ten minutes though, the home pressure told when, after Hallett had taken two defenders out, Dan Sutherland kicked the loose ball through and was fast enough up on the Staines full back to be able to kick it out of his hands as he grasped for it on the ground. As another defender grabbed the ball and touched it down, the referee whistled up and awarded Chiswick a penalty try. Presumably someone must have prevented a home player reaching the ball. Anyway, Chiswick gratefully accepted the seven points, Hallett slotting the kick.
The initially stunned Staines responded strongly, and Hill had to be quick to clear the home line. His kick down the line was run back, ominously quickly, by the Staines backs, of whom the right wing and full back looked lively. Their full back also ran back the next rather hopeful long kick, and it required a good tackle by Dan Godfrey to get him down after several others had missed. Staines now put in a sustained burst, and it was a smart blind-side move that allowed some space for a quick diagonal run to disrupt the home defence. The kick was a gimme, and it was even Stephen.
Staines’ kicks proved fruitful throughout the match, and now a really long one, seemingly destined for touch-in-goal, bounced wickedly into touch just short of the home line. Hood did well to shepherd a Staines player into touch just short of the line after they had stolen the ball at the front of the ensuing lineout. Hooker Sam Biss then made amends with a try-saving tackle of his own, followed by a good throw to Matt Pickering. Chiswick failed to get the ball upfield, however, and some good defence was followed by a chapter of unfortunate errors, culminating in the sin-binning of the home full back for a marginally-high try-saving tackle on the Staines’ wing. The referee, on reflection, then awarded Staines a penalty try, allowing them to go seven points up, after the kick.
Chiswick came straight back, and after a sustained move in which Sam Leslie-Miller and Dan Sutherland were prominent, Biss got over and touched down. Hallett converted from exactly the spot where he had been practising before the match and it was back to square one again. Tom Adams was the next to show his team how to tackle after another series of misses as Staines kept the attacks coming. Staines then scored two tries just before half-time. The first came after a long throw to the tail of their lineout, close to the home line, and a neat bit of mauling, and the second when they chased a long kick more successfully than the home team. Neither was converted.
A good backs’ move early in the second half nearly produced a try for Hill, but he was not quite quick enough to recover his own chip over the opposing full back. The same Staines player’s hopeful line kick in the next visitors’ attack cunningly eluded the unfortunate Hill, allowing the full back to score another unconverted try. Chiswick strove mightily to come back from the abyss, but although they managed to maul over the line, and drop on the ball, the referee was unsighted, and no try ensued. They did manage one try, a simple move, tidied up along the way by good work from Tom Shattock, ending with Sutherland brushing aside the defence to score under the posts, Hallett drop-kicking the conversion. Staines were not to be denied, however, and post-mortems start here.
Chiswick team :- Shattock, Biss, Tonkin, Hood, Pickering, Cooper, Adams, Leslie-Miller, John, Hallett, Steer, Godfrey, Sutherland, Brooks, Hill, Regan, El Akabi, Reedman