Chiswick continued their fine away form with a 34-30 win over a battling Hemel Hempstead. Once again Chiswick made it difficult for themselves but came away with a much needed bonus point win thanks to tries from Jon Joyce, Jonny Olley, Dan Sutherland, Luca Vannini and utility back Gabs Lowe.
This looked like being another stroll in the sun for a rampant Chiswick team with an exciting back row of Jon Joyce, Jon Olley and Sam Leslie-Miller. In the end, however, they were hanging on grimly, and wiping their brows as Hemel came back hard at them in this thrilling seven-pointer.
Playing against the wind on Hemel’s sloping pitch, Chiswick made an excellent start, with a solid scrum and competent lineout, but it was the power of Olley that produced the first try, after five minutes, the No.7 getting the ball inside the home 22 and battling to the line, after Tom Steer had made a half-volley pick-up look easy. Chris Hitchcock slotted the conversion. Hemel came back with a strong run by their right wing, and then a penalty kick deep into the Chiswick 22. The Chiswick pack attacked the attempted maul with vigour, and when the home pack was in trouble, the pass out was knocked on in the centre. Leslie-Miller did his usual good job of running from the back of the scrum, and the danger was cleared. With Jon Joyce and Max Burrows both making good yards without actually breaking clear, Chiswick looked comfortably in command, and it was no surprise when Joyce touched down in the left corner in the twelfth minute after a sustained attack. The conversion attempt was never on, given the wind.
Hemel upped their game and full back Dan Sutherland did well to escape the clutches of two home backs chasing a good kick. Some neat kicks by the home backs contrasted with a horribly sliced clearance by a Tom Steer – doubtless the wind was at fault. Hemel then set up a good position, and won the lineout ball only yards from the Chiswick line, only to drop it. Another promising position for Hemel crashed on the rocks of the Chiswick defence, and after thirty two minutes play Hemel finally got on the board with a simple penalty kick. Chiswick came back strongly, and Burrows finally made a clean break before finding Bunbury on his shoulder. The ball was then worked out to Sutherland, who rounded the home defence to the right, where they were weaker. Hitchcock’s conversion made it 19-3. Smarting at being so far adrift, Hemel launched another strong attack, only to drop the ball again. Just before half-time, however, a good move succeeded when their inside centre decided he had to do the job himself, and showed pace and power in rounding the Chiswick defence to score wide out. The kick failed.
Chiswick started the second half strongly, and a sustained attack ended with the bonus point try, scored by Luca Vannini, who slipped over the line from a ruck after Simon Allen-Clarke, Olley, Joyce and Burrows had all been stopped just short. Hitchcock converted and things looked easy. As the game continued, however, a lowering of Chiswick pressure as they tired, together with some poor kicking, inspired the home team to throw the ball around more, and they gradually gained control. Ten minutes into the half a multi-phase move was instigated by Hemel’s useful No.13 and finished off by their left wing, too wide out to be converted. Rich Bryan came on for Chraplewczyk, but soon Hemel had reduced the arrear with a try by their scrum half, very similar to Vannini’s. The kick, against the wind, again failed.
Sam Biss now came on, in place of Leslie-Miller, and Gabs Lowe in place of Vannini as Chiswick rang the changes. This soon produced dividends, a break by Olley being carried on by Lowe, and then Biss, who was floored but got in a great pass to Lowe who scored wide out – too wide for Hitchcock to convert. Hemel scored next, their No.13 doing a sevens move, stopping and then rapidly accelerating between two defenders to reach the line. 25-31 after the conversion. Joyce nearly made a clean break, and then Tom Shattock had a charge before Hitchcock slipped at a crucial moment. The Chiswick pressure led to Hemel straying offside, and Hitchcock extended Chiswick’s lead. Hemel were unconvinced, and scored the final, unconverted, try after Chiswick had been reduced in number by a yellow card.
Shattock, Dibble, Chraplewczyk, Hood, Allen-Clarke, Joyce, Olley, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hitchcock, Purkiss, Burrows, Bunbury, Steer, Sutherland; Biss, Bryan, Lowe
T: Joyce, Olley, Sutherland, Vannini, Lowe
C: Hitchcock (3)
Author: Dave Lovell