With nothing but pride at stake this was a cracking game, involving the two best defences in the League, some scintillating play, and a lot of forced errors, ending appropriately enough in a draw. If Chiswick had only upped three tries to four in several earlier matches, things might have been different. Let’s have no sour grapes, however; Chiswick have had an excellent season, with no easy victory in a very competitive league, and providing lots of good rugby to savour.
Oliver Snook’s excellent kick-off forced Belsize Park into an offside offence as the ball arrived with a number of home players escorting it from below. The kick to the corner and the five metre lineout inevitably followed, and with Rich Bryan soaring above the opposition an instant try looked likely. At this point Park showed their mettle, counter-mauling fiercely as the ball bobbled about close their line. Eventually the visitors got a turnover, and kicked to touch. Chiswick won the ensuing lineout, but lost the next one they had. They kept the pressure up, however, and after eight minutes, when they finally decided it was time to spin the ball out, James Bunbury found another defence-splitting line past Snook’s shoulder to score, Snook adding the points.
The Park, despite hordes of supporters cheering them on, still hadn’t settled, and the kick-off went over the dead ball line. They were soon back attacking, however, and in turn demonstrated their mauling ability, getting very close the home line. It was another break by Bunbury, down the left wing that ended the bout of pressure. A long period of nervy play followed in the centre half of the pitch as each side tried to establish dominance, until eventually an offside decision allowed Chiswick to gain another five metre lineout. Keeping possession of the ball, it was Simon Allen-Clarke who finally forced his way over the line. Snook’s kick was pulled just left. The visitors were on top for the last minutes of the half, but Chiswick kept them out, just.
With a bit of wind arriving, the Park’s kicker, poor up to this point, started the second half with a low quick one, which rather caught Chiswick napping. Park pressed and got a turnover. Further pressure, and after a near miss, they scored in the right corner. The difficult kick succeeded. A poor lineout by Chiswick followed as the pressure began to tell, but with Snook’s excellent kicking gaining loads of territory, the game was evenly balanced. Stewy Parmeter got within four metres of the try line with a sprint from a lineout ten metres out. Home pressure was relieved when the Park prevented a tackled player going to ground. Chiswick then produced the move of the match, with Tom Harper’s searing break over the half way line finding Bunbury on his shoulder, who drew the man and passed out to Tom Steer, who propelled himself over the line in the left corner. Snook did well to get the conversion, and the Park had it all to do again.
Tom Steer steps inside to score in the corner
Cheered on by their supporters, determined to celebrate the occasion, they showed why they were the Champions in the last 25 minutes. First their wing scored out on left with a surge down the line from ten metres out, their left-footed kicker then making light of a difficult conversion. Then their pack achieved a turnover in a scrum, finding Rob Barton well-positioned to deal with the ensuing long kick. Snook tried a chip as an alternative to the touch kick, but the bounce was not kind to Steer, who’d got in front in the chase. Questioning a decision cost Chiswick ten metres and a five metre lineout, leading to a Park maul and a try. The crowd held their breath, but the kicker kept his nerve and it was all square, and so it remained up to the final whistle.
Author: D Lovell
Chiswick 19 Belsize Park 19
T: Bunbury, Allen-Clarke, Steer
C: Snook (2)
Team: Barkham, Dibble, Parmeter, Bryan, Allen-Clarke, Gadsby, Randall, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Snook, Steer, Harper, Bunbury, Burrows, Barton; Purkiss, Copperwheat, Lopes