Not being one to miss out on a spot of lunch & drop of vino, I had the pleasure to dine with some of the extremely pleasant chaps from the Sidcup RFC hierarchy who we look forward to seeing again at Sydney Road on the last day of the season.
Enough of the pleasantries & after pre match warm up & weeks of hard work in pre season, it was time for the the new Chiswick Skipper (Sam Leslie Miller) to lead his young charges out & the evergreen Dave Hill to get us underway with Chiswick’s first touch in London 1 as he kicked off towards the River Thames end.
It was a stern examination for a very spirited & committed Chiswick team on our first foray into London 1 South as we welcomed a well drilled & physical Sidcup outfit. And a first competitive caps for Harry Cody-Owen, James Bunbury, Louis Walker, Tyler Bush and Hayden Watane under the tutelage of the new skipper with an old head Sam Leslie Miller.
The early exchanges were fairly even with both sides testing each other out in the close quarters. Chiswick sending in some of the heavy artillery with Fatsis & Joyce taking the ball up around the fringes.
It was Sidcup though who made the first notable contribution with a couple of good carries after stealing the Chiswick scrum in the middle of of the pitch & some good carries from their centres & back row moving them into the Chiswick 22 where the referee set his stool out & penalised Chiswick for offside in midfield. Sidcup Full back John Hardy duly accepted the opportunity for the first points of the season (0 – 3)
There was a familiar theme from the restart with the Sidcup 9 putting Chiswick under pressure with a well placed box kick but Sutherland gathered well & Chiswick were awarded a scrum of the season on half way after the breakdown.
Under some considerable pressure Vannini managed to get the ball to Hill who put a perfectly weighted kick into the Sidcup 22 stopping just infield & putting Sidcup under their first bit of pressure, they recovered well & cleared, but only to Hill who fed Sutherland who let Dimitriadis test his opposite man but was well marshalled. Chiswick then penalised for holding on & Sidcup kicked for touch.
From the resulting line out Chiswick were penalised again for over exuberance in the midfield & the referee had no hesitation to award Sidcup a penalty just inside the Chiswick half in front of the posts. An impressive strike from the full back extended their lead to 0 – 6 after 8 mins.
Chiswick again found themselves under pressure from the restart & another cleaver box kick from the Sidcup 9 saw them back in the Chiswick 22 were they charged down Hill’s clearance & are awarded a scrum on the Chiswick 5 metre line, a couple of phases later & the referee spotted another Indiscretion & Sidcup are awarded a Penalty in front the posts, which Full back Hardy makes no mistake with (0 – 9).
The now familiar box kick was deployed again & more pressure for the Chiswick defence to deal, some full blooded tackling from Godfrey & Bunbury in Midfield ably supported by Harry Cody-Owen & Shattock at the break down just kept Sidcup at Bay & huge hit from Georgie D on the Sidcul prop & Darroch earned a penalty after excellent work at the breakdown, to give the home side a chance to regroup & clear our lines.
Unfortunately the impressive & well organised Sidcup pack stole the resulting line out & marched into the Chiswick 22 & their number 8 John West rumbled over for a 5 pointer, the conversion was missed by Hardy.
Chiswick got into the game a bit from this point & after some impressive phases & good work at the breakdown, they begin to ask questions of Sidcup’s defence. Which proved up to the task & they earned a penalty for Chiswick holding on at the breakdown, Sidcup kicked long into the Chiswick half.
After a loose kick from Chiswick, Sidcup 11 makes good yards & surges over half way. Chiswick survive after more strong defence & earn a penalty & a chance to clear.
Sidcup get a scrum on Half way after a knock on at the line out & the blind wing hit the line in midfield & broke the Chiswick line, good support play from the backs saw the number 12 Jack Berry gallop in to score next to the posts, Hardy converted to stretch the lead to 0 – 21 after 32 mins.
There was still time though for Chiswick to find their feet & exert some pressure of their own. After a few penalties & a number of testing surges from the Chiswick pack close to the Sidcup line, Vannini as always spots half a gap & snipes over for the first 5 try of the season in the left corner. Hill misses the touch line conversion for a half time score of 5 – 21.
Chiswick started the second half in the worse possible fashion with Sidcup turning over the Chiswick scrum and after a number of phases, sending their second row Cooper over in the corner to secure the 4 try bonus point, Hardy nailed the difficult conversion and score was 5 – 28
From this point on Chiswick seemed to regather themselves and some belief that they were more than capable of competing at this level. The half time substitute of Taylor Bush for Harry Cody-Owen proving a useful addition around the park and the front row of Shattock, Permenter and Chraplywyj holding their own in the scrums. There was more patience from Chiswick at the breakdown and they began to play the phases, as we will have to learn to do at this level, with half backs Hill & Vannini beginning to guide the team around the park. The injection of life in the back line of Grindle who replaced Godfrey gave the Sidcup backs something to think about, as he set about a number of counter attacks and mazy runs. Officer Dibble also entered the fray for the season campaigner Chraplywyj and the Chiswick regained some parity in the lineout which had not functioning at its best under the pressure of the Sidcup pack. This was Chiswick’s most promising phase of the match and they made a number of good breaks through the backline and were just unable to get the finishing touch when calm heads and soft hands were required, last ditch knock-ons accounted for a couple of chances.
With Chiswick just falling short of getting themselves another try, Sidcup were able to clear their lines and gain some territory in the Chiswick half and after a few more phases the number 10 Sam Evans jinked his through the defence to score to the left of the posts, the conversion was missed and the score was 5 – 33 with 10 to play.
After a lovely break from Grindle who’s cleaver chip caught the Sidcup defence by surprise, Chiswick were pushing hard to give the home fans something to remember the game by, countless breaks from Sutherland, Dimitriadis, Godfrey and Grindle weren’t finished off with the best of the lot being knocked on after good work from with Louis Walker, Hill, Sutherland and Grindle.
Chiswick finally got what they deserved after yet another prolonged offensive on the Sidcup line saw Vannini provide a lovely try for the Gary Linker of Chiswick RFC and from the old skipper to the new, as non-other than Leslie Miller was lurking with intent on the left to score in the corner. Hill just fell short with the conversion and the score finished 10 – 33.
This was probably a fair result and Sidcup were well worth the win with their strong set piece, defence and work at the breakdown proving a bit to much for Chiswick’s first stab at London 1 rugby. But Chiswick will feel they have plenty to offer this league and will of gained some valuable experience from the encounter.
Chiswick Man of the match was Scrum Half Luca Vannini.