A last minute try for London Nigerians earned them the bonus point win and denied Chiswick, who know they should have walked away with five points, but left with only one.
Nigerians 24 Chiswick 22
A ding dong encounter between two strong, well-matched teams was decided, in effect by one loose pass by Chiswick, intercepted by a very tall winger with the Chiswick full back in the line. At this point Chiswick had been ahead, the hosts having drawn first blood with an early try, but Chiswick having manufactured a beauty of their own after Simon Hallett had slotted an excellent penalty kick.
Throughout the match the Nigerian kickoffs gave their forwards every chance to recover the ball, and they were on the attack from the start, going in front after four minutes with an (unconverted ) try in the right corner coming from efficient handling after a line break just in the Chiswick half. Chiswick replied immediately, getting possession from their kickoff, and attacking strongly, with Marc Copperwheat and Hallett making good yardage before the home team strayed offside. Two points in it.
The home team came back strongly, but lost a lineout in Chiswick’s 22 to a great jump by Sam Leslie-Miller. Chiswick got the ball well downfield, and then, after some scrappy play, Hallett made a strong diagonal run in midfield, and timed his pass out perfectly for Max Burrows to streak down the left wing, with Dan Sutherland in support. A couple of passes and it was Burrows who scored under the posts, Hallett converting. Chiswick were on top for a while, with Jon Joyce wriggling elusively through tackles, whilst Hallett probed the home defence, which did well to put two tacklers, at least, on to Jon Olley every time he made typical surges.
Chiswick had a clear advantage at the lineouts, thereby negating some good touch kicks by the home right wing. Unfortunately the backs play was not as effective, and in trying too hard to set up an overlap, the combination of a flat line and a long loopy pass proved disastrous, the hosts thus going ahead 12-10 after 18 minutes. Chiswick regained the ascendancy, and London Nigerian did well to resist a multi-phase attack, with Leslie-Miller prominent. The home team now got on top, retaining possession well and using large forwards in short bursts to gain position. A penalty for not releasing, after 28 minutes play, gave the home team a chance to attack in the left corner and they went further ahead with a try, well converted by the left-footed scrum half. Chiswick responded quickly, and after a good run by Joyce, Gabs Lowe showed how to execute a grubber kick to perfection, the ball obediently bouncing parallel to the touch line for Tom Steer to pick up and dive over in the right corner. Unfortunately the right-footed Hallett could not quite reciprocate the previous conversion.
Leslie-Miller defused a sustained home attack by nicking the ball in the Chiswick 22, but the counter-attack was very slow as the backs’ flat alignment gave no space for running at the opposition or for risking a long kick ( possibility of being charged down ). The half finished with a long but fruitless Chiswick attack.
Chiswick lost Olley and James Filbey to injuries after twenty minutes of the second half, but Simon Allen-Clarke and Sam Hood were two very useful forward subs, and Chiswick retained parity in the scrums and the loose. The home kicker missed a good chance to put them further ahead from a penalty. As the light began to fail, there were mistakes on both sides, but now the Chiswick forwards made a concerted attack, working their way over the line and gaining a five metre scrum. A quick heel and Leslie-Miller carried the tacklers over the line whilst achieving a clear touch down. Hallett’s kick was good, and Chiswick held a slender lead. They managed another attack, after Hood had dispossessed a home player, only for the umpteenth knock-on to be called. The home team now upped the pressure, and Chiswick were grateful when they eventually got a penalty, and got a touch in the home half, only. Fatefully though, they now lost their lineout. One last sustained attack by London Nigerian, and they created an overlap on the right and scored in the corner. The final whistle went immediately after the kick.
Author: Dave Lovell
Chiswick team: Cooper, Filbey, Barkham, Copperwheat, Joyce, Gadsby, Olley, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Hitchcock, Sutherland, Hallett, Burrows, Steer, Lowe; Allen-Clarke, Hood, Harper
T: Burrows, Steer, Leslie-Miller
C: Hallett (2)