Saturday 17th December was a day full of firsts for Chiswick 1st team.
Our first draw of the 2016/17 season, first time Riki and Bryan Darroch had started together for the 1st team on each flank and Jon Bendall’s first start at hooker for the 1st team.
A big thank you to Marko and Chris who sat on the bench, so that we had a full 18 for the game after a few last minute changes.
The starting team saw 7 changes from the one that took the field against CS Rugby the week before, however we did have back captain Sam Leslie Miller at number 8 (SLM put up a big fight not to be put into the second row), James Bunbury at 13, Russ returned at 9 and thankfully Stewie made himself available after a lot of begging to come in at tighthead.
Chobham currently sit one place above Chiswick in the table but are always a well drilled and physical outfit with a big pack of forwards and some lightning quick backs.
From the start, Chiswick were under the pump and Chobham scored first from a well-organized maul after Chiswick had conceded a number of penalties at the break down. Chiswick 0 – Chobham 7
Both teams were struggling to understand the referees interpretation of the breakdown, but one thing was clear that ‘old school rucking’ was well and truly allowed which pleased Stewie on a number of occasions. However, following a period of defending from Chiswick we went offside and Chobham kicked an easy 3 points. Chiswick 0 – Chobham 10
Chiswick slowly started to work themselves into the game and with Jon B, Jonathan and Sam Leslie all making inroads we won a penalty, which Simon Hallet kicked. Chiswick 3 – Chobham 7
After conceding more penalties and more ground, Chiswick ended up in their 22 and Chobhams strong lineout set their backs in motion and after a clean break in midfield and finished strongly. Chiswick 3 – Chobham 17
Captain Miller calmly mentioned to the team that if we played our game, cut out the penalties and stayed in the Chobhams half then points would come (simple game rugby) and after multiple phases where Dan Godfrey made yards the first Chiswick try of the game was scored by James Bunbury. A quick change of direction behind the ruck from Russ and Simon allowed James to hit a ‘magical line’ (direct quote from tweeter) to race in from just inside the Chobham half. Hallet missed the conversation. Chiswick 8 – Chobham 17.
The first half was coming to a close, however Chiswick seemed to be getting on top and even though Chobham had a couple of dangerous opportunities a swing in momentum was starting to take place before the half time whistle.
Second half and Chiswick really came out of the blocks fast and scored quickly. Chobham were now conceding penalties and Chiswick were gaining territory. After a kick to the corner and multiple forward phases, a chip over the top from Hallet allowed James Bunbury to score his 2nd after catching on the full before ghosting past the last two defenders. Hallet missed the conversation. Chiswick 13 – Chobham 17.
With their tails up the Chiswick forwards were starting to make more in roads, which allowed more time for the backs to produce some great play. After a perfect arrow to the tail of the lineout from Jon Bendall and a subsequent 20 metre maul from the pack, James Bunbury made another telling break but was illegally high tackled. Hallet nudge the 3 points to close the gap. Chiswick 16 – Chobham 17
Chobham seemed rattled at this point and made a number of substitutions to stem the tide, but it had little effect as Chiswick scored again through Tom Steer. After more good work from the forwards (Coops, Jon and Stewie did a great job at scrum time to give us parity), we made ground up the pitch to the Chobham 22. Russ with quick thinking changed the direction of attack this time hitting Dan Sutherland coming into the line from full back. Dan managed to break the first tackle, free his arms like Sonny Bill Williams and release Tom Steer to score a cracking try in front of the posts. Hallet converted (at last) Chiswick 23 – Chobahm 17
With 12 minutes to play, Chiswick continued to stay on the right side of the referee. This allowed Chiswick to gain good territory and continuous possession in the Chobham half. This led to a driving maul being held up over the Chobham line, which was a shame when a certain try would have been scored with a bit more patience.
Dan Purkiss also went very close to scoring after great work from Hallet, Godfrey and Bunbury to create the gap but sadly he was caught (and later fined for this).
In the final 5 minutes, Chobham showed they were not done and got close to the Chiswick line on a number of occasions. Chiswick defence was strong but sadly a penalty was conceded, which Chobham kicked. Chiswick 23 – Chobham 17
As time ticked on, Chiswick failed to control the ball which allowed Chobham to gain possession just outside of the Chiswick 22. A Solid hit in midfield allowed a good competition for the ball at the breakdown. The referee raised his arm and blew his whistle…….. Penalty against Chiswick (so harsh).
Chobham kicked the points. Chiswick 23 – Chobahm 23
The game went on with both teams struggling to keep the ball, until Chiswick were given a penalty just inside the Chobham half. Hallet stepped up but sadly the kick was short.
The final whistle came after a Chobham drop goal attempt went well wide.
It has been a tough first half of the season for Chiswick but we hope the break heals some bodies and allows for a few more to become available in the coming months.
A mention to the 4th team and 3rd team players who played their game to then help out the 2nd team who were struggling for numbers. This reporter has said it a few times before but if you make yourself available then don’t drop out the morning of the game, as it screws up everything for all teams.
Look forward to seeing you all on Tuesday 3rd January at 7.15pm (for those of you who have forgotten the time it starts)
1) Stewie P
2) Jon B
4) Jonthan J
5) Marc C
6) Riki D
7) Bryan D
8) Sam Leslie M
9) Russ D
10) Simon H
11) Dan P
12) Dan G
13) James B
14) Tom S
15) Dan S
17) Chris M
18) Jamie M