Chiswick dominate unfortunate Gosport
Lucky to avoid relegation last year, Gosport are already a target for other teams struggling to survive in the rarefied atmosphere of London 1. Chiswick proved too strong for them, with an excellent all-round display in which their lineout play was a great improvement on previous efforts, with Sam Hood and Sam Leslie-Miller providing plenty of possession. With at least parity in the scrums as well the Chiswick backs could attack confidently, bolstered as they were by the first appearance of talented right wing Tom Muskett.
Left wing Jamie Millais had the first run of the match, but lost the ball forward as the Gosport defence converged on him. Unfortunately for the visitors, their fly half was injured in the first few minutes, and was soon forced to retire. Most of their running from then on was based on their lively scrum half, but Chiswick dominated possession from the start, and Gosport were forced to defend for long periods. Simon Hallett just missed with a long penalty kick at goal, and several home attacks in the first twenty minutes foundered on knocks-on. Centre Ed East had to tidy up a couple of awkward situations, but it was scrum half Tony Sprangers who eventually broke the deadlock with an early pass out to Muskett after Max Burrows got the ball back quickly when tackled. A neat chip over the defender and a sprint to the line looked like a training routine, but it gave Muskett his first try for the club. Hallett’s kick failed.
Rapid tackling by Gosport continued to force errors in the home attacks, but when prop Heath McDonough got the ball with thirty metres to go, he brushed off a few tackles, stumbled through another and crashed through to the line. Hallett got this conversion, and Chiswick were truly on their way. The backs claimed the next home try, when the ball was moved to the right touch-line and then to the left touch-line, where full back Tom Steer linked up with Millais, the latter getting the touch-down in the corner. The conversion attempt failed. The kick-off was short, and Sprangers put a good touch kick in from the scrum. Chiswick won the lineout (!), and an inviting gap opened for Hallett to stroll through for the bonus point try. He added the points. There was still just time in the first half for a Hallett penalty goal.
Gosport got off to a flyer in the second half, with a rash Chiswick kick leading to a multi-phase counter-attack down the left wing, which ended with the Gosport wing out-pacing the defenders and scoring a duly-converted try. Chiswick came straight back, and from a five metre lineout, Sam Leslie-Miller’s take, followed by a counter-clockwise spinning maul produced a try for hooker James Filbey, well converted by Hallett from the right touch-line.
Chiswick remained on top for the remaining thirty minutes of the match, the Gosport efforts being limited to some good chip kicks, testing the catching ability of Steer – who passed the test with honours. Subs Phil Gray and James Bunbury were soon on and in the thick of the action as Chiswick tightened their grip. Bunbury’s spirited charge for the line was stopped just short, but Filbey was on hand to touch down, and with Tom Shattock coming on, and Gosport losing their useful No.8 to injury, the home pressure led to a converted final try for Hallett after a blistering counter-attack by Steer.
Chiswick team:- McDonough, Filbey, Newman, Hood, Hobbins, Darroch, Biss, Leslie-Miller, Sprangers, Hallett, Muskett, Burrows, East, Millais, Steer, Shattock, Gray, Bunbury