Chiswick 17 Grasshoppers 3
Author: D Lovell
In foul conditions and under floodlights from the start Chiswick, brilliant at scrummaging and mauling, survived a spirited attack by lowly Grasshoppers. A diagonal gale from the river end dictated affairs, the cold and slippery conditions favouring a forwards-dominated kicking game, and for this Chiswick fly-half Oliver Snook was definitely the man, until he was injured, whereafter Harry Cox did a splendid job.
The major problem for the home side was in obtaining the ball from lineouts, one reason why they had to put in a lot of tackles, Grasshoppers having at least their fair share of possession. Typically it was Sam Leslie-Miller first into the affray with a catch and charge, followed almost immediately by the first of many penalties given by this referee. Grasshoppers then sustained the pressure for a while, using their large second row players, and a quick No.8 to batter the home defence. A good scrum got Chiswick upfield eventually, and a quick-thinking charge-down by Tom Gadsby gave Grasshoppers their first real problem. Snook instigated a threequarters’ move, but Tom Steer dropped the slippery ball when in a good position.
The referee now helped the home cause with two consecutive free kicks for feeding against the Grasshoppers scrum half. Soon Chiswick had a five metre lineout, and, wonder of wonders, got possession, via Leslie-Miller. Grasshoppers did very well to keep out the ensuing maul, but conceded a scrum, from which Chiswick pushed over the line for Leslie-Miller to get the touchdown. Snook got the conversion. Thirteen minutes gone. Grasshoppers’ No.8 made a good break after the restart, but was finally swamped. At his next attempt, on the home 22, he was enveloped by Leslie-Miller. John Joyce then took a ball at the tail of a home lineout, and set up a maul which trundled many encouraging metres upfield before the ball was released to the backs. Grasshoppers had a period of pressure now, but the home defence was very solid and organised. In injury time, and crucially, psychologically, the dangerous Grasshoppers No.8 was held up just short of the home line.
It was Chiswick on the attack in the second half, and from a position just short of Grasshoppers’ line in the right corner, Cox cross-kicked towards the left corner. A kind bounce gave the eager James Bunbury half a chance which he seized to dart over the try line. Cox’s kick, against the wind was brave but short. Back in defence, Gadsby did well to knock back a Grasshoppers’ thro at a five metre lineout. Some desperate defending by Chiswick followed, but they managed to prevent the visitors from scoring, and finally relieved the pressure with a good kick
Simon Allen-Clarke came on for John Joyce as Grasshoppers finally decided to get some points with a kick at goal. It went over via the left post. Chiswick now produced another great maul, gaining all of 25 metres, but losing possession at the end. Bunbury made another rapid, but inconclusive break and then the fired-up home team got another charge down. They gained another five metre lineout, and for the second time won it, at the front, through Gadsby, after a nervous juggling act. Roared on by the crowd, the Chiswick pack surged over the line for the enforcer, Allen-Clarke, to get the touchdown. The kick failed. The final whistle could rarely have been so welcomed. This was a highly competent display by Chiswick in appalling conditions, made a little easier by the all-weather pitch.
Chiswick team: Barkham, Dibble, Parmeter, Joyce, Copperwheat, Gadsby, Randall, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Snook, Steer, Harper, Bunbury, Purkiss, Cox; Allen-Clarke, Cooper, Burrows
T: Leslie-Miller, Bunbury, Allen-Clarke