Chiswick 43 – Old Merchant Taylors 17
A cold capricious wind failed to prevent a feast of running rugby, with the home pack, strengthened by the return of Sam Hood, proving the dominant force eventually. Despite the wind on their backs, with Gabs Lowe standing in at fly half, Chiswick were always going to run everything. The Old Merchant Taylors had the first real chance though, Joe Grindle, uncharacteristically, dropping a kick. The ball was moved fast across to the left wing, the referee playing advantage, and the wing left Andy Ibberson for dead with a dart inside him. The mortified Grindle, however, streaked across and floored him.
Chiswick had a slight edge in the scrums, Russ Dovey having an easier time than the visitors’ No.9, and the home backs set out on a course of destruction of the Taylors’ backs when they tried to open up, with Dan Godfrey and Josh Noble forming a wall in midfield. Grindle had to half-volley a clearance, but then retrieved the ball, did a couple of side steps and kicked for Noble to chase. The defenders got back, but a poor kick gave Matt Cooper a chance to run at, and nearly through the defence. Chiswick kept the ball in the opposition’s 22, and after probing to the left, Jon Joyce was given the ball to test the right side, and he hurdled tackles to make the line. Lowe got the conversion.
Joyce had a spring in his feet after this success, and Hood was determined to show he could make good metres as well. With Cooper and Mike Fatsis also demanding their share of the attack, and James Dibble, captain for the match, ubiquitous as ever, things began to look ominous for the visitors. Noble had taken over the touch kicking, and proved to have a big boot. It was a Taylors’ attack that led to the next try, however, the move breaking down in midfield, and Grindle seeing the opportunity to counter-attack. He burst past the first line of defence, and with no-one back it only required an accurate pass for Noble, speeding up in support, to go under the posts, Lowe stroked the ball over, and the home team were already thinking about the next try.
Twenty minutes in Hood got it, after a good backs movement, involving several miss-passes ( difficult in the wind ), and a contribution from Fatsis. Lowe again converted. It all seemed too easy, but Chiswick went off the boil, and fifteen minutes later Taylors struck back. A lineout on the home 22 did not look dangerous, but this time they kept the ball in the forwards and mauled over for an excellent try. The conversion was extraordinary, given that the kicker was left- footed, the try was in the left corner, and the wind was against. Chiswick came back, and Fatsis nearly got over after a five metre scrum. The ball was then moved right, and back again for Tom Steer to get over in the left corner, Lowe’s kick failing. The only further event of the first half was Rikki Darroch’s hand-off of the season, flattening an opponent who had the audacity to get in his way.
Noble had the bit between the teeth, but another ground-devouring run after the break ended with a sloppy pass which Ibberson did well to pluck off his toes. A good touch kick then put Chiswick within reach of the Taylors’ line and a driving maul from the lineout surged over it for Fatsis to claim the fifth try. Dave Hill’s kick failed. Over-enthusiasm to keep the ball in play presented Taylors with a consolation try, sub. George Dimitriadis’s fingers diverting the ball parallel to the touchline, and at the mercy of the Taylors’ right wing. The left-footed kicker lost his balance this time, and it was a matter of sublime to cor-blimey.
Chiswick retained the ascendancy until the end, scoring further tries through Joyce, who used the presence of Hood outside him on the left wing to sell a fairly obvious dummy and cruise over the line, and sub. Phil Gray, after a brilliant swerving run by Lowe. Hill converted the second of these. Taylors scored a good, albeit unconverted try of their own, their quick right wing touching down just before being crashed into the corner flag. The connoisseur’s highlight of the second half was Hill’s brave half-volley pick-up of a kick, under the noses of the charging opponents, followed by a couple of tackle-defying swerves, and a laudable attempt at an attacking kick down the line.
Chiswick team :- Dean, Dibble, Chraplywyj, Hood, Joyce, Cooper, Darroch, Fatsis, Dovey, Lowe, Steer, Godfrey, Noble, Ibberson, Grindle; El Akabi, Gray, Hill, Dimitriadis