H.A.C. 20 Chiswick 27
Having beaten the top three teams in London 2 North West, Chiswick were hard pressed in the end to beat the team now one behind them. (Note all these Clubs begin with an H). Grey weather and a heavyish pitch took a bit of the sparkle out of what was a close encounter, but it was the magic of Joe Grindle that set the game alight. After Simon Hallett had signalled his intent with a long kick into enemy territory, provoking a similar response, Grindle had his first chance to weave his way through the opposition, and there was never any doubt he would try. Conditions, however, made sharp turns difficult, and the move soon broke down. Jon Joyce soon had his first lunging run into the HAC 22 as Chiswick piled on the pressure.
After some inconclusive set pieces, including a wheeeled scrum, and a multi-phase Chiswick attack, well-defended by HAC, Hallett produced a perfectly-weighted chip from the left side of the home 22 for Grindle to score an unconverted try in the right corner in the eighth minute. HAC responded vigorously, and the lively home fly half tried a similar chip kick, but it wicked off a Chiswick player. Play remained in the Chiswick 22, however, and HAC eventually slotted a penalty goal. Chiswick immediately got the points back after HAC presented Hallett with an easy kick by disputing a decision.
Josh Noble scented a try when Hallett put him away with a long pass, but he was stopped just short as he dived for the line, hoping momentum would get him over. George Dimitriadis decided to try his hand at a long kick, and the home full back made the mistake of kicking it back long to Grindle. Eschewing Darroch’s support, Grindle screamed off down the left wing, flicking off a desperate dive for his ankles, and throwing off a blocking arm. With the home wing inches behind, he made it to the left corner, leaving Hallett to try, and just miss, the conversion.
Hallett then had to relieve the situation as Chiswick fumbled the kick-off, which he did by carting man and ball down the pitch, and gaining a penalty. Sam Leslie-Miller achieved a brilliant turn-over, but then slipped a neat pass to the opposition. HAC responded in kind, and gained a penalty, and three points. Chiswick upped the pressure, and Joyce was feet from the line when the ball slipped from his grasp. Grindle was pulled up just short and the half-time whistle was welcomed by the home side.
Chiswick started the second half brightly, and Grindle nearly set up Dimitriadis for a try, but the pass was just forward. Chiswick’s pack was in the ascendancy at this stage, reinforced by sub Jan Joubert and after camping briefly near the home line, they gained a scrum and powered their way over the line, only for a home player to kick the ball away – penalty try, converted by Hallett.
Two minutes later, and Chiswick had the put-in to a scrum on the home 22. Leslie-Miller broke away, and when slowed got a good pass out to Jon Gibson, who was pushed a little wide but grounded the ball safely. Hallett had no problem with the kick, and Chiswick looked out of sight. Not so. HAC appeared to get a second wind, and came back strongly, as Chiswick relaxed a bit too much. The home team eventually scored a good, converted try on the right wing, and, right at the death, with Chiswick hanging on with fourteen players, a second try, under the posts and converted, after a simple break through the middle of the Chiswick back line.
Chiswick team:- Shattock, Dibble, Chraplewczyk, Joyce, Fatsis, Adams, Darroch, Leslie-Morris, Dovey, Hallett, Dimitriadis, Gibson, Noble, Sutherland, Grindle, Joubert, Gray, McLaughlin