Chiswick save the best for last
A cold but, finally, sunny April day witnessed an energetic contest between the well-muscled home team and the rumbustious visitors, of more varied physique, tuning up for their Middlesex Cup Final. The start was typically scrappy as everyone tried to get involved, but the first significant move was by Chiswick, Adam Ross taking a quick tap as Sidcup were penalised at the first scrum. Although the move petered out fairly quickly, Ross himself made good yardage. An offside decision gaveChiswick the first chance of points, and Simon Hallett slotted a long kick – for once Chiswick were not trailing at the off.
A surging run by the Sidcup Mo.8 took him nearly to the line, but when the ball was spun along the line, Chiswick’s open side flanker, Rikki Darroch put in a try-saving tackle. Sidcup had more ball at this stage, but Chiswick’s defence was excellent, and moves were snuffed out quickly. Hallett made a good break, but was brought down by the cover defence. The referee saw something amiss, however, and awarded Chiswick a penalty, and, in effect, three points with Hallett in such good form. The home crowd began to grumble. Chiswick tried a new lineout ploy, with Hayden Watene taking a low throw at the front of the lineout, and going down the line with the thrower, Stewie Parmeter in support. This worked a treat, the move only ending with a foot in touch on the other side of the field. Sidcup worked their way back, and gained a scrum near the Chiswick line. They wheeled this a bit to give their No.8 a clear sight of the line, and he bisected the Chiswick defenders to score wide out. The banana shaped conversion was surprisingly successful, and Sidcup were ahead.
Home pressure now mounted, but Chiswick defended well against an attempt to maul over the line after a five metre home lineout. Chiswick No.8 Sam Leslie-Miller, as is often the case, was working wonders behind a pack under pressure, and managed to carry the ball well into the middle of the 22 after the ensuing scrum in the corner, allowing Hallett toget in a good touch kick. The home No.10, in a little space, now gave a demonstration of how to dummy, the ball finally reaching the left wing, who scored in the corner. The conversion succeeded.
Hallett reduced the deficit by three points soon after half-time, but then the ubiquitous, hard-working Leslie-Miller had to stem a dangerous attack down the wing as Sidcup tried to up the pace. Chiswick’s defence creaked as the home props ran at their line, and the referee produced a yellow card, awarding it to the indignant Tom Dean. Parmeter, having justgone off, had to return, and the hard-tackling Sam Biss had to take a breather. The restart scrum headed fast for the Chiswick line, and a penalty try, duly converted, was the result.
Chiswick now showed their character, grittily stepping up the effort as Sidcup strove to take control. Sub Marc Copperwheat came on and did well behind the relatively lighter pack. The third Sub, Tom Steer, now came on and was immediately in the thick of things. Chiswick ran the ball out of defence, and Jamie Millais found Steer in space with an inside pass. When he was finally stopped near the home 22, Gabs Lowe stroked a beautiful grubber kick towards the left corner, and the electric Dan Sutherland accelerated smoothly over the line, picking up the ball on the way. Hallett’s boot added the points and shortly after, Biss and Dean returned.Mistakes crept in as the play became more open, but Chiswick’s defence remained determinedly rock-solid as wave after wave of home attacks drove at them. The virtue of a quick tap, even near your own line, was then demonstrated as Adam Ross set Steer free, who in turn linked up with Dan Godfrey and Millais before Hallett found Sutherland outside him, and that was another try. When the kick came back off the post, that looked like a drawn game. Indeed it was, eventually, but in the extended injury time both teams added another converted try, Chiswick’s being scored by Dan Godfrey, in the left corner again, after Sidcup had taken advantage of some over-optimism in the Chiswick camp to get theirs.