Chiswick started the season with a hard fought win against a Belsize Park side that didn’t lose at home all last season, and have ambitions to push for promotion this year.
Tries from captain Dan Sutherland (2) and Bunbury (1), and a penalty from Hallett (1) helped Chiswick to an 18-12 win, although they also had to thank the pace of Ed Peach for a try saving tackle, and Max Burrows for the turnover when the match was finely posed at 13-12 with 15 mins left on the clock.
Chiswick started the match in familiar fashion to last season, slowly, giving their opponents plenty of opportunities to get points on the board. An early penalty was missed by the home side, but it didn’t take long for Chiswick to be punished, quick play and a well worked try seeing Belsize Park down the left side and over for the opening score. Conversion missed.
It took Chiswick more than 15 minutes to get a foothold in the match, eventually finding some rhythm and building some phases. Chiswick were dominating the set piece, Filbey regularly finding his man in the lineout, with Leslie-Miller and Copperwheat particularly impressive in the air, and all eight forwards combining for a superior scrum, Cooper – on his 50th appearance for the club – and Marco C dominating their opposite men all game. A succession of penalties for the home side, including a very late shoulder charge on wing Ed Peach allowed Chiswick back in to the match, with Hallett taking advantage of an infringement directly in front of the posts.
The hosts came roaring back though following a poor clearance kick, switching the ball to one flank, then the other, a front-five forward bundling over the line from less than 5 metres out. Conversion successful.
With the half coming to a close, it was Chiswick’s turn to attack, switching the ball from flank to flank and giving new captain Dan Sutherland the opportunity to score in the right corner after some quick ball at the ruck and impressive link play between forwards and backs. The difficult conversion from out wide was missed. Chiswick then capitalised on the momentum switch, Chris Hitchcock on his league debut chipping through for Bunbury to chase, scoring in the left corner after looking like he’d be beaten to the ball. The sideline conversion was missed, and Chiswick went in to the half with a slender lead, 13-12 up.
The second half began much like the first, with Belsize Park seeing a lot of the ball and only some stalwart defending from Chiswick keeping them behind the gain line and Sam Biss doing his best to slow the play of the ball down. When Belsize broke the line, they looked very dangerous and on one attack certain to score. Only the incredible pace of Ed Peach preventing a certain try on the line, with the excellent Max Burrows, on for the injured Gabs Lowe, chasing back to get over the ball and win the penalty.
Finally, Chiswick worked their way out of their half. Bunbury was blocked attempting a chip and chase, leading to a penalty which Hallett knocked to the corner. Once again the forwards set up a dominant maul from the resultant lineout, the ball switch back to the sideline for Dovey to feed Sutherland out wide scoring his second try of the game with the final play. Again the conversion from our wide was missed.
Final Score: 18-12
A win against a side who have been tipped to be there or there about’s is a good start to the season, but the squad are under no illusions as to the work required to build on the result. A first home league game of the season against London Nigerians this weekend will give them an opportunity to right many of the mistakes from the opening game.
Team: Cooper, Filbey, Chraplywyj, Copperwheat, Gray, Joyce, Biss, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Hallett, Peach, Hitchcock, Bunbury, Sutherland (c), Lowe; Kneen, Arber, Burrows
T: Sutherland (2), Bunbury (1)
P: Hallett (1)