Chiswick deservedly came up short against a pumped up Hammersmith and Fulham side, who finally arrested their losing streak against a lacklustre Chiswick side who were hoping to make it four league wins in a row.
Tries from Burrows, Olley, Steer and Bryan, and two conversions from Hallett made the score 27-24, and saw Chiswick leave their rivals with two bonus points, but that is much less than the 5 points the players and fans were expecting.
On to the next one.
A disappointing match for Chiswick was a great one for struggling Hammersmith, who celebrated their 40th Anniversary with a well-deserved victory against their old rivals, in front of a good crowd of vociferous supporters.
From the beginning Chiswick struggled in the scrums against a team with surely the shortest front row in the League, who undermined the Chiswick efforts to use any weight advantage. The home scrum half was never caught behind the scrum, and the home fly half had room to get quickly up to full speed and launch an athletic back division. The large pitch allowed them to get away from the Chiswick forwards, and put pressure on a rather tentative back division. The Chiswick lineouts were not as secure as in the recent past, in the absence of Sam Leslie-Miller and Jon Joyce, hence the normal Chiswick weapon, the maul was rarely a threat, but it was the tremendous tackling effort of the home team that eventually paid off.
Chiswick struggled to get out of their half as Hammersmith’s high defensive line and Chiswick’s rather prosaic passing prevented any great gaining of ground by the visitors. A nasty clash of heads early on forced one home player to retire from the fray whilst the Chiswick fly half Chris Hitchcock went off for bandaging. Immediately on the resumption, Hammersmith scored, after a quick heel on the left from a scrum just outside the Chiswick 22 gave them room to exploit the space and run across and around the Chiswick defence to touch down in the right corner. The low pressure ball made the conversion effort almost impossible, and it failed.
Chiswick finally got an attack going, and Jon Olley made some good metres, but he, and then Burrows, and then Simon Hallett were all held up just short by a determined defence before Burrows found a way through to score near the posts, giving Hallett a simple conversion. Tom Gadsby took the kickoff well and Chiswick began to look more comfortable. Slowly they applied more pressure, with the forwards combining well with the backs. Sam Biss, Hallett, Sutherland and Burrows took play into the home 22, before Russ Dovey and Hallett got the ball to the irrepressible Olley, who could not be stopped from 20 metres, scoring under the posts, Hallett adding the points. If Chiswick expected Hammersmith to crumble, they were disappointed. A Chiswick attack was thwarted, and an immediate home counter-attack, which appeared to have foundered on a knock on near the Chiswick line, was allowed to continue, Hammersmith scoring an unconverted try in the left corner. Their outside centre nearly got another soon afterwards after taking the ball from the hands of the fly half as he was tackled, but Chiswick’s last ditch tackling was good and they held on until half time.
Hitchcock returned to the field, and Rich Bryan came on for Sam Biss, but after some unrewarded Chiswick pressure, a break downfield would have produced a home try, but the ball was knocked on. With home pressure increasing, the Chiswick defence looked short of numbers on occasions, and Hammersmith went ahead with another unconverted try in the left corner. This was soon followed by another home try, under the posts following some twinkly side-stepping running out on the right. Chiswick had to knuckle down now, and did so. Sutherland got to within ten metres of the line with a break down the left wing; the ball was passed quickly along the line, with Simon Allen-Clarke and Marc Copperwheat making good ground before Burrows found Tom Steer in support, and the wing ran round and in to make the kick easier. Not easy enough, unfortunately.
Hammersmith and Chiswick swapped tries as the match went to an exciting conclusion; Hammersmith’s being in the favoured left corner, and Chiswick’s, scored by Rich Bryan after good work by Copperwheat and Hallett, too far right for a conversion. With three points in it Chiswick had a penalty to the right of the posts, and eschewing the possible two points on offer for a draw, went for the lineout. Gaining the ball unexpectedly from the lineout, they passed the ball to the opposition! That turned out to be the last chance, although Copperwheat’s brilliant break down the right wing deserved better than for the wing to whom he passed being caught from behind.
Chiswick team: Shattock, Dibble, Barkham, Copperwheat, Allen-Clarke, Biss, Olley, Gadsby, Dovey, Hitchcock, Steer, Hallett, Burrows, Purkiss, Sutherland; Chraplewczyk, Bryan, Brooks
T: Burrows, Olley, Steer, Bryan
C: Hallett (2)
Author: Dave Lovell