Chiswick hang on – just
Yet another first ever encounter ended with eight minutes of wind-assisted Havant throwing everything at a beleaguered Chiswick. Kicking was difficult, and the unsuccessful decision to try twice for a penalty goal may well be rued by the visitors on reflection. Handling, though, was also a chancy business, so it was not an easy choice.
Chiswick started brightly, and at the first penalty Simon Hallett tried a high Garryowen, instantly successful, as it was spilled by the luckless defender. A period of home possession ended with no score, however, and then the very first Havant attack showed up a lack of intensity in the home tackling as neat play took the ball ever nearer the home posts. It was the Havant right wing who broke the final half-tackle to score under the posts, with the conversion a gimme.
It slowly became apparent that Havant had a plan “A” in the backs – a chip kick into the space behind the home backs for their left wing to run on to. Luckily for Chiswick, Joe Grindle was well capable of dealing with these kicks, and with his supreme ability to counter-attack, this plan should have been discarded sooner than it was. Chiswick should score more tries from these situations, but unsurprisingly the supporting players find it difficult to keep close to the full back.
Scrum half Luca Vannini and the Chiswick back row were giving Havant trouble retaining possession at the back of their scrums, whilst Chiswick in turn failed to take a number of their own lineouts, and with the wet conditions play became a bit scrappy. After thirty five minutes, Havant kicked a penalty goal after an offside decision. Chiswick were finally stung into life, and with Dan Sutherland finally having a little space to run in after fielding a poor clearance kick, a move involving backs and then forwards ended with Jon Joyce touching down in the left corner. Hallett did well to slot the conversion. The first half ended after a promising Chiswick maul had broken in front of the ball carrier.
An early yellow card in the second half, for offside, reduced Chiswick to fourteen, and gave Havant the chance to go further ahead via a penalty kick, which succeeded. Chiswick survived the next ten minutes well in the gloom, with Sam Leslie-Miller having more and more success in running from the home scrums and setting up attacks. Havant’s No.7 in turn was also proving difficult to stop, and it became a very even contest. Chiswick took play nearly to the Havant line, and a panicky pass by a defender hit Hallett’s finger-tips as he went for the interception. It didn’t stick, unfortunately.
Sam Biss got nearly to the Havant line as Chiswick kept up the pressure, but when the move broke down, a Havant hack down the left touchline required brilliant defence by Dan Purkiss, who got right across the field to save the situation. James Bunbury in turn did well to stop a counter-attack at source after a clearance kick by Purkiss had been well caught by a Havant back. Leslie-Miller, spinning through the defence with most of the home pack behind him, got over the visitors’ line, but the ball was adjudged held up.
The hard-working No.8 then made an impossible catch of a dodgy Chiswick throw-in, and set up another maul. This time the Chiswick forwards rumbled efficiently over the line, with Bunbury providing an important shove to the rear, and Dan Godfrey somehow getting the touch down. Hallett added the crucial points, and the scene was set for the nail-biting finale. After some silliness at a 22 drop-out during this period, the home pack, for whom Stewie Parmeter was an icon throughout the game, did brilliantly in destroying the Havant scrum and kicking the ball well up field. The whole team in fact, with the subs lending critical support towards the end, should be congratulated on their gritty defence during this period.
16-15 against Twickenham, and now 14-13 against Havant! A comfortable win would be welcome.
Chiswick team :- Parmeter, Dibble, Shattock, Watene, Copperwheat, Joyce, Biss, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hallett, Purkiss, Godfrey, Bunbury, Sutherland, Grindle; Chraplewczyk, Milais, Allen-Clarke