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Brighton nearly caught by defiant Chiswick
Brighton applied the pressure at the start of this soggy encounter, keeping Chiswick on the back foot as they charged down towards the Thames with rapid handling and intent to gain a couple of metres at each phase. Chiswick were in no mood to cry foul, and defended stoutly, with forwards Marc Copperwheat, Mike Fatsis, Simon Allen-Clarke and StuartParmeter prominent. A long kick by Simon Hallett allowed Dan Purkiss to have a run upfield, and provided short relief. Soon the pressure paid, however, and after the home scrum had been pushed back in a disorderly fashion, the Brighton no.8 got over the line in the left corner. The conversion attempt went left. Centre Tom Harper made a quick break for Chiswick, but the support was too slow arriving.
Chiswick’s first real attack into the “red” zone was led by Tom Shattock, charging forward with Copperwheat in close support. Gabs Lowe came into the line with ten metres to go, and kicked for the corner. The ball just beat the players into touch, unfortunately. Chiswick’s defence was then caught out after a quick switch in tactics by Brighton, the ball being passed swiftly out to the left wing with most of the players struggling on the sticky turf on the other side of the pitch. Their full back came into the line and made a clean break, only to be caught by a despairing tap tackle by Lowe just short of the left corner flag. Brighton managed to retain possession as the peloton arrived, and the third lunge for the line was successful. Kicking from the same spot as before, the Brighton No.11 pushed the ball wide.
Still on the boil, Brighton ran the kick-off back into the home 22, then opened out left and scored a third try in the same spot as before, and thoughts of a massacre came to mind. The kicker concentrated hard then kicked straight towards the posts. Not quite hard enough, though. Chiswick gritted their teeth and got back into the game with solid bursts from Copperwheat and Parmeter. Adam Ross spotted a gap at the edge of the Brighton pack and made a thirty metre break before just being caught by the Brighton outside centre. The attack was sustained, and a neat grubber kick by Copperwheat nearly brought dividends. Chiswick had just received a yellow card, and now Brighton got one, giving fresh hope to the home team. The resultant penalty kick was slotted tidily by Simon Hallett, and the fight back was under way. Both sides were guilty of kicking away possession, tempting as it was in the conditions.
When Chiswick kept the ball in hand they looked lively, with Sam Biss coming in to the line, and it was a change of pace by James Bunburythat set up a brilliant try. Lowe and Harper took the ball into the Brighton 22. Ross and Hallett continued the move, and then it was the ubiquitous Copperwheat who instigated a change of direction. Biss and Ross got the ball out to Lowe, who seemed to have no room on the right wing. A switch inside to Tom Steer was the answer, the wing taking a great inside line to slice open the defence. Hallett just had to convert, and the kick arrowed between the posts.
The second half was gritty, with a scattering of cards, as both teamswent hammer and tongs for the win. Clean shirts became a uniform brown. Heath McDonough gained some excellent metres with his burrowing runs, and Dave Hill made a miraculous catch as a game of aerial ping-pong looked as though it was going to finish in Brighton’s favour. Purkiss put in the second best long kick of the game, gaining a good fifty metres. A sustained attack by Chiswick nearly brought a try, with Fatsis twice close to the line, but a knock-on scuppered the move. Another multi-phase attack ended with a penalty for Chiswick, and Hallett reduced the gap to two points. Hallett eventually outdid Purkiss with a touch-kick to within feet of the Brighton line. Brighton shaded the final minutes despite a red card.