14th March 2015
Maidstone 29 – Chiswick 12
Both teams tore into this Regional Final of the RFU Intermediate Cup from the off, and it was anyone’s game at first, with Chiswick’s probing fifteen man rugby, tending towards the anarchic, running up against the aggressive Maidstone defence, which excelled in ripping the ball off the visitors. A flat dry pitch and sympathetic refereeing combined to facilitate an exciting match, watched by one hundred plus vociferously appreciative spectators, although the first try, by Chiswick, did produce a moment’s silence in the home sector.
At first Maidstone had problems in the lineouts, where Jon Joyce was in a disruptive mood, and with neither side able to dominate the scrums, Chiswick had ample possession. The first good maul by Chiswick, however, ended with the ball being snatched from the Chiswick player. When Maidstone attacked, Sam Leslie-Miller and Simon Hallett were prominent in defence, and it was Hallett who made the crucial mid-field break after eleven minutes, and linked up with Joyce to send Leslie-Miller free down the right wing. He spun through a couple of tackles before touching down in the corner – Hallett could not convert this one.
Within five minutes the chastened Maidstone team replied with a try, also in the right corner, having achieved the luxury of a two man overlap after a swerving run by their No.7 had drawn the Chiswick defence out of position. The kick failed.
Maidstone immediately attacked again, but three minutes near the Chiswick line failed to produce a score against a very efficient defence, before relief came for the visitors as Maidstone prevented release. The home team had the edge at this stage, with good kicking allied with strong running. Some poor passing let Chiswick off the hook, however. George Dimitriadis was heavily involved, with last-ditch tackles, but eventually efficient re-cycling found a gap in the centre of Chiswick’s defence, and Maidstone were a converted try to the good.
Some frantic play followed, with mistakes on both sides, and then came some inspired play by wing Tom Steer, who turned a really dodgy situation into a dangerous attack, with timely support from Riki Darroch. Dave Hill carried on the move, and the ball reached Joyce on the right wing. He cut back into the centre and rode a couple of tackles before touching down near enough to the posts to give Hallett a simple kick to level the scores on the half hour.
The next Maidstone counter-attack proved unlucky for Chiswick as their inspirational Captain, Luca Vannini, always in the thick of things, received an injury, forcing his eventual retirement from the game. With a back division short of players for various reasons, this was a real blow, although Gabs Lowe proved a lively replacement. Another bad moment arrived almost immediately, Leslie-Miller losing the ball in his 22, after a good run from the base of the scrum, and Maidstone using it efficiently to score ten metres left of the posts. The conversion was the last score of the half.
Substitutes Mikhail Ahola and Mike Fatsis injected some physicality into the Chiswick running, but were unable to pierce an increasingly confident home defence. Chiswick were looking most dangerous when they pounced on the occasional home mistake and Dan Sutherland manufactured a promising break only for his short pass to hit Josh Noble’s thigh. Joyce had another scything run but stumbled at the last. A to-and fro passage of play, with two players down injured ended with the crucial fourth home try, the powerful Maidstone skipper Ben Williams strolling through two Chiswick players on his studied way to the line.
After Maidstone had wrapped it all up with a fifth, unconverted try, with less than ten minutes to go, Chiswick wing Steer appeared to score a consolation try, only for the referee to indicate that the final pass was forward. Chiswick now have to concentrate on maintaining second place in the League, and on the Middlesex Cup.
Chiswick team :- Chraplywyj, Dibble, Joubert, Hood, Joyce, Adams, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hill, Dimitriadis, Hallett, Noble, Steer, Sutherland; Dean, Fatsis, Ahola, Lowe