Norwich 18 Chiswick 10
In this North-West v North-East Intermediate Cup match, the East Anglians cam out on top – just. Chiswick, with a number of debutants and players playing out of position, started off like a train, and Norwich, with their forwards unable to cope with the Chiswick mauling, looked set for ignominy. Matt Cooper got over the line in the first five minutes, but on his back, and the ball was held up. Chiswick kept up the pressure, and when the backs finally got involved, newcomer Rob Barton found a good diagonal line through the defence to score out towards the left corner. Hitchcock could not quite manage the conversion.
As Norwich slowly realised that they weren’t going to be torn apart, they got a little less nervous, and with their useful No.15 orchestrating attacks from hopeful Chiswick kicks, the game evened out. The scrums and lineouts were shared out fairly, but the cold windy conditions brought a crop of errors from both teams, with the defences generally on top. A quick tap-and-go by Russ Dovey almost led to another Chiswick try, but the ball was dropped at the last. Norwich had the better of the rest of the half, and scored a penalty goal in the last minute.
They remained generally on top in the second half, and went ahead with another penalty goal. Their fly half kept on trying to put their speedy right wing away, but Chiswick’s defence was very good. Eventually, however, after Chiswick had picked up a yellow card Norwich did score a try, with a bit of an overlap out on the right, the full back sprinting into the right corner. The conversion kick was splendid, and Norwich went eight points clear. Chiswick were not done, however, despite having to juggle their front row subs to keep the scrums reasonably in control.
A Norwich sub came on, and almost immediately got a knee in the face and a dislocated finger. Norwich, in turn, were reduced to fourteen . The Chiswick mauling machine, coached by Andy Barrington, was still going strong, and finally avoided upsetting the referee long enough for sub Blair McKinlay to get a touchdown. The kick failed, but with time running out, the match was open to be taken.
With one minute left on the clock, the Chiswick pack produced the goods again, and when the maul was stopped, the three points on offer were spurned in favour of a penalty kick giving Chiswick a five metre lineout on their left. Norwich did well to anticipate the throw-in. and nicked the ball from under the noses of the Chiswick jumpers . A high kick down-field by their scrum half bounced wickedly for the Chiswick defence, was caught by the Norwich right wing, and transferred immediately to the outside centre, who ran diagonally across the field and round the despairing Chiswick backs to score in the left corner, with 56 seconds remaining. Oh so close to a fantastic win.
Chiswick team: Barkham, Dibble, Chraplewczyk, Copperwheat, Middleton, Cooper, Joyce, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Hitchcock, Biss, Brooks, Barton, Gadsby, Vannini; McKinlay, Donaldson