Chiswick were close to rescuing a win from a match that took them over 40 minutes to get in to. Going into half time 21-5 down, Chiswick’s only score courtesy of captain Dan Sutherland, tries from Dan Purkiss and Stewy Parmeter put them just one score away from claiming the win. It wasn’t to be though, the clock ticking past 80 after another Chiswick error.
The match away to Hemel Hempstead now takes on more significance, as does every remaining game this season, if Chiswick want to retain hopes of getting promoted back to London 1 at the first time of asking.
After an initial skirmish by the visitors, Chiswick dominated possession and territory for more than five minutes, but could not break down a determined Hampstead defence. Missing the powerful running of Jon Joyce and Jon Olley, to the fore in the last game, even the welcome return to the team of scrum half Luca Vannini and No.8 Sam Leslie-Miller was not quite enough to create a wide-enough hole in the defensive line for a home player to get through. Inside centre Max Burrows had a number of runs, and almost got in in the right corner, only for the fourth tackle to stop him. Encouragingly, however, good ground was being made by Chiswick in mauls.
Hampstead were delighted when they finally broke out of their 22, and when they went on the attack they gained more ground per phase than the home team. They had a slight advantage in the lineouts, but it was in the open, where they handled the ball neatly and covered more ground per player than the home team, that they gained most. Some nervy play by both sides followed, with Hampstead growing in confidence, and after ten minutes a missed tackle on the visitors’ very useful inside centre led to a try near the posts, duly converted. The Chiswick pack then managed to hold up a Hampstead maul to achieve a turnover. Hampstead immediately put the pressure back on, however, and by keeping possession in the home half, stretched the home defence wide enough to create a wide gap for their full back as Chiswick ran out of tacklers. This try, after 23 minutes, was converted.
Five minutes later, Chiswick came back with a good try of their own, retaining possession well after a typically weaving run down the right wing by Tom Steer, whose game up until then had comprised a knock-on and a sliced touch kick. It was captain Dan Sutherland who got over the line, and ran round towards the posts in a vain attempt to allow Chris Hitchcock an easy kick. Unfortunately some bad kicks by Chiswick, and some good ones by Hampstead led to a pile of home players on the ground near their line, another being treated in the visitors’ half, and a gaping void in the home defence, allowing the Hampstead flanker to canter unchallenged to the posts for a converted try.
Chiswick came back strongly, only for Burrows to be penalised for crossing as he was close to the line. Chiswick wasted a lineout near the Hampstead line when the Hampstead jumper did well to beat Hood to the ball. By now subs Stuart Parmeter and Marco Chraplewczyk were marauding around in place of Kneen and McKinlay, but despite their dominating possession until half-time, the home team failed to score.
Two minutes into the second half Hampstead got their bonus point try (converted) after a missed tackle. They appeared to go off the boil after this, with Chiswick pushing them back in the scrums, where the new front row seemed well in command, and generally applying more pressure. A successful penalty kick by Hitchcock reduced the lead. Dan Purkiss was now on for Gabs Lowe, with Sutherland back in his best position, full back. Blair McKinlay had to come back on in place of an injured Filbey.
The last 25 minutes saw a shift towards the home team. A rare poor kick out of defence by Hampstead gave the deadly pair of Steer and Sutherland a chance to attack from deep, with Purkiss outside to receive the final pass. Hitchcock got a good conversion
Chiswicks’ mauls were producing more and more yards. After one was pulled down in the visitors’ 22, a good lineout led to yet another, and this time Chiswick surged over the line for Parmeter to touch down and Hitchcock to add the points. As time ran out, Chiswick were attacking, but a short pass to a fast-moving Burrows near the Hampstead 22 was knocked on, and the final whistle followed, leaving the hosts with a hard-gained point for their efforts.
Chiswick team: McKinlay, Filbey, Allen-Clarke, Copperwheat, Hood, Kneen, Gray, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hitchcock, Steer, Burrows, Bunbury, Sutherland, Lowe; Chraplewczyk, Parmeter, Purkiss
Final Score: 22-28
T: Sutherland, Purkiss, Parmeter
C: Hitchcock (2)
Author: Dave Lovell