Letchworth 17 Chiswick 31
A much-changed Chiswick team settled down remarkably well in this, on paper, difficult fixture against a team from a club with much London 1 experience. A determined start saw Russ Dovey charge down an early kick as Letchworth tried to exploit pace at full back and wing. The first Letchworth lineout was competent, but Chiswick achieved a turnover at the subsequent maul. Given Chiswick’s inconsistent lineout play (anything between brilliant and dreadful ), this was a relief to their supporters. Fly half Harry Cox soon tried an enterprising chip over the home backs, which should have resulted in something better than a home penalty, awarded when Chiswick, having commandeered the ball, failed to release it. Ten metres for backchat ensured an easy three points for the home team.
Early home attacks were comfortably dealt with by the increasingly confident looking Chiswick team, with turnover king Simon Allen-Clarke ensuring a supply from unpromising situations and James Bunbury being just one player to show good technique in the tackle. Rich Bryan took a lineout ball well to set the Chiswick maul going, and good yardage was made. Chiswick began to dominate, but a really good move, started by the pack, and carried on in the backs, was spoilt by crossing as the over-eager players swarmed into the home 22. Letchworth in turn reached the Chiswick 22, only for their lineout thrower to manage to find a (surprised?) Stu Parmeter at the tail of the line. With room to move, the prop set up a good counter-attack.
Twenty minutes in, a good heel and quick passing led to Tom Harper pulling the defenders across and giving Tom Steer a little room to use the space outside. His silky smooth run to the corner gave Chiswick a two point lead – Cox’s kick was well wide. Chiswick now upped the pressure, but a good move, starting with a maul, foundered on a forward pass. Gabs Lowe then had a bit of defending to do, firstly, when exposed, with a good long kick to touch, and then with a last ditch tackle on the speedy home full back. Letchworth retained possession after this, but their wing dropped the ball when in an excellent position. Sam Leslie-Miller was, as usual, coping well when the Chiswick pack gave a little ground, shaking off would-be tacklers like raindrops from an umbrella.
On the half hour, a multi-phase Chiswick attack ended, unrewarded, with a pass behind Steer near the home line. The same player got another chance a couple of minutes later, however, after good work by Leslie-Miller and Dan Purkiss, and this time he could stroll over. Cox’s kick was better, but not quite good enough. Purkiss was soon set up by Bunbury for a good run down the wing, but the defence held well. It was all Chiswick now, however, and sustained pressure culminated with Alex Randall going over from close range, Cox adding the points.
The second half finished all square, with two tries apiece, all converted, so Chiswick finished up with five points, and Letchworth, sadly, none. Bunbury made a searing early break, but then threw a blatantly forward pass out. A high tackle led to the first yellow card, for the home team, and this was soon followed by a second. Strangely, Chiswick, despite unreduced effort, failed to benefit from being 2 players up. Cox tried a quick tapped penalty, to no effect, and this was followed by two successful five metre lineouts, neither leading to a score – what happened to the Chiswick maul?
After half an hour, Dovey scored the bonus point try after sustained pressure in the left corner, Cox converting. With five minutes left Letchworth belatedly began a come-back, and after a good sustained attack, their No.12 dived inside Purkiss for a deserved try, duly converted. Chiswick came back, a neat chip kick giving Steer the chance to complete his hat-trick, but Letchworth had the last word, with Purkiss just failing to catch the scorer after a fast break and a well-managed final move.
T: Steer (3), Randall, Dovey
C: Cox (3)
Chiswick team: Barkham, Dibble, Parmeter, Bryan, Allen-Clarke, Randall, Lopes, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Cox, Purkiss, Harper, Bunbury,, Steer, Lowe, Filbey, Hood, Burrows
Author: D Lovell