Enfield, bottom but one in the League, desperately needed a good result, and must have targeted this fixture, having gained a forty point home victory over Chiswick last season. From the start they played with an intensity the visitors found difficult to match, their speed to the breakdown, and their tackling being exemplary. Chiswick, in turn, took a while to come to terms with the grass pitch and a strong end to end wind, which they had to face in the first half.
The home tactics were clear from the start, with high hanging kicks from their fly half, head-down charges by the pack (provoking a number of highish tackles, usually resulting in home penalties) and a determination not to leave gaps in the back line. Simon Allen-Clarke and Rich Bryan made early attempts to get into their stride, but were thwarted by home forwards determinedly hanging on to them. James Dibble did get in a ten metre burst, but was forced wide. Marc Copperwheat usually made good yards, but possession was on the thin side. At their first scrum Chiswick were forced back, Sam Leslie-Miller having to do his trademark run around the back of the pack before attempting to make some ground. They then gained a lineout within striking range, but were penalised for closing the gap, and Enfield knocked them back to half way. Enfield had a good chance to go ahead, but their wing, chasing a loose ball which had been hoofed down-field, managed to knee it once too often, so it went dead before he could touch down.
After fifteen minutes, with Chiswick struggling, the excellent Enfield No.8 took a quick tapped penalty and made a dozen metres, into the Chiswick 22. The move was carried on through several phases across the field and Enfield scored well out to the left. The kick ominously bounced over the bar off the upright. Inevitably, Oliver Snook’s kick-off sailed straight into touch. Enfield kept pressing and seven minutes later kicked a penalty goal following a high tackle decision. Allen-Clarke rescued the kick-off, and Chiswick had their first long attacking period. A lineout option, in place of a kickable penalty goal, failed after an untidy lineout left Dibble to pick up the pieces, and eventually Chiswick were deemed offside. Failure to score at this stage was probably the crucial moment of the match. Enfield stormed back, and gained two more penalties in front of the posts before half-time, each competently turned into three points. Chiswick were yellow-carded down to fourteen in this period ( flailing arm?).
Despite ringing the changes with the subs in the second half, which included a welcome return for Ben Kelly, and despite a favourable wind, Chiswick failed to make any early impact in the second half. In fact Enfield were doing better in the scrums, thereby increasing their possession rate. Slowly Chiswick improved, and they had a sustained period where they were only a couple of metres from the home line, Leslie-Miller, James Bunbury and Snook all going close. The referee then decided to give Chiswick a penalty try, bringing them to within nine points of Enfield. That turned out to be their last score, however. Surprisingly they never got a penalty within kicking distance in this half.
Enfield, however, got another easy kick for handling in the ruck, and there lay the difference between the two teams’ scores, Chiswick giving away far too many penalties. In fact, if Chiswick’s defence had not been good, they could have lost much more heavily since Enfield had several chances which went begging.
With Harpenden securing a 22-19 win against Belsize Park, Chiswick now find themselves 8 points behind their nearest rivals, but with a game in hand and three games remaining in the league.
Author: D Lovell
Enfield 19 Chiswick 7
Chiswick team: Cooper, Dibble, Parmeter, Copperwheat, Allen-Clarke, Bryan, Gadsby, Leslie-Miller, Cox, Snook, Purkiss, Harper, Bunbury, Steer, Backhouse; Filbey, Dovey, Kelly