Chiswick 20 Harpenden 11
The first maul in the match, by Harpenden, was impressive. The ball eventually came out and was kicked hopefully downfield. Putting it within Joe Grindle’s range was a big mistake, however, as the Chiswick full back chipped over the rush of players in black and white, caught it after a lucky bounce and sent wing Rory McLaughlin off towards the line. He powered through a tackle and touched down. Simon Hallett’s kick was pulled just left. One minute gone, and a warm glow crept over the home supporters.
The first Harpenden attack produced an alternative glimpse of how things might go, as their left wing knocked on with no opposition and twenty metres to go. Within five minutes the visitors had reduced the lead with a good penalty kick. Another couple of minutes and another hopeful kick gave Chiswick another chance to run: Jon Gibson and Reggie Regan combined to put McLaughlin away, and when he found Grindle outside him, it looked odds on for a second try. He was caught just short of the line however – good defence by Harpenden.
Chiswick found their mauling and scrimmaging boots, and soon wheeled the Harpenden scrum legally through 90 degrees as the forwards warmed to their task – and it was very warm, especially for veteran prop Marco Chraplewczyk, summoned up at the last minute. He had a brilliant game, as did sub Jannie Joubert, also making a come-back. Chiswick pressed hard at this stage, but were stopped just short on several occasions. At this stage, Luca Vannini got a nasty injury, and with Grindle moving to scrum half, Chiswick had to refocus their attack. Hallett, Gibson and Regan all tried to force their way sufficiently through to offload a scoring pass, but Harpenden defended well. McLaughlin nearly got Tom Steer away, taking out two tacklers before passing, but the gap would not appear. A rare prolonged attack produced a try for the visitors’ fly half, and it was 8-5 against the run of play.
Dan Sutherland came into the middle of the line in the next promising home attack and burst through only for Gibson to be stopped just short. The wing looked to have scored in the corner a minute later, but had a foot in touch, apparently. Chiswick kept up the pressure, but had to settle eventually for three points, Hallett slotting the kick. Chiswick messed up the kick-off take, not for the only time in the match, and had to work hard to keep Harpenden out
Sam Hood was putting the screws on the Harpenden jumpers and claimed one of their throw-ins early in the second half: unfortunately the backs were not organised to attack. The forwards produced a twenty metre surge in the maul as Chiswick began to take charge. A long build-up from their own half, in which Hood’s sleight of hand was appreciated, involved most of the team, and led to a fine try, with Joubert breaking finally from the mass of players and finding Gibson on a charge. When he was tackled, Tom Adams was on hand to score under the posts. Hallett drop-kicked the conversion.
Chiswick now stepped up the pace, with Leslie-Miller, Darroch, Hallett and Gibson in particular involving themselves in every movement. Good kicks by Regan and Hallett maintained the play in the visitors’ half, and soon play surged over the Harpenden line again, with Mike Fatsis getting the touchdown, and Rowan Tonkin some slaps on the back on the back. Hallett’s drop kick was just wide this time. Harpenden soon got three points back with a penalty, but Chiswick maintained the ascendancy for most of the rest of the match, though Harpenden were pressing hard towards the end, trying to achieve a losing bonus point.
Chiswick team:- Chraplywyj, Dibble, Tonkin, Hood, Fatsis, Adams, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, Hallett, Sutherland, Gibson, Regan, McLaughlin, Grindle, Joubert, Biss, Steer