Chiswick scored six tries, but no conversions, to beat a battling Luton side 30-17. Playing with speed and aggression at key periods of the game was enough, tries from Steer (2), Farrell (2), Rutledge and Bunbury earning the win.
Luton made life difficult for Chiswick, who at times didn’t help themselves – Snook earning a yellow card at a point that could have instead been a second Rutledge try. But a bonus point win is a bonus point win, and Chiswick move on to Fullerians next Saturday.
Chiswick 30 Luton 17
Compared with the match at Luton, it was wind, not rain, that had a big effect this time. Ollie Snook, whose kicking from hand was generally, as usual, excellent, had a tough time from the tee managing to miss the first five conversions, and several other players looked silly grasping thin air where the ball should have been. Chiswick started ok – good lineout ball resulting immediately from the Luton kick-off, which should have been easily collected, via No.8 Rich Bryan, and an efficiently-organised maul taking the ball ten or so metres upfield. It was James Bunbury who set up the first real attack with a sprint down the right wing, carried on by the forwards, with Simon Allen-Clarke prominent, before wing Lewis Rutledge touched down. It was therefore looking good after three minutes, but the next kick-off was knocked on and although Chiswick resisted the initial attack from the resulting scrum, the ball went loose and neat work led to a Luton try wide out on the left. A good kick, and Luton, bottom of the League, were ahead.
Sam Leslie-Miller, Gabs Lowe and Tom Steer celebrate the win.
Not for long. Chiswick, aggressive off the line in defence, forced Luton to lose the ball and with a kick on from Bunbury over Luton goal-line, the ball was gratefully touched down by TJ Farrell, the winner of the pursuing race by a short head from Tom Steer. The Chiswick forwards were having to work hard against a physical, if rather pedestrian Luton pack, and Marc Copperwheat, Ben Kelly and Sam Biss were in the thick of things. Bryan almost got through down the left wing with his trade-mark high speed shuffle. Luton’s unusual tactic of short low throws at the lineouts worked quite well, but they failed to threaten the home throws. Luton levelled the score after 25 minutes with a penalty goal. A minute later Chiswick responded with a try in the left corner, Bryan snaking off the back of a scrum on the narrow side and timing a good pass out to Steer. Another difficult kick, a violent gust, and another miss. A sustained Luton attack now extended the home defence, but it held well near the line. The last good chance in the half fell to Chiswick, the ball going right along the backs within five metres of the Luton line, only for the ball to be knocked on at the last.
Chiswick now rang the changes, with Harry Cox coming on at scrum half and Sam Leslie-Miller coming in a little later to the second row. Ed East soon followed. Snook immediately put a penalty kick into touch well in the Luton 22, and Tee- Jay Farrell cut a smooth line through the visitors’ defence in a slick move involving Simon Allen-Clarke as a decoy, the defence splitting pass from Rutledge. Snook would doubtless have got this one, but the wind blew the ball away as he ran in to kick it. He picked it up and tried the drop, but it was charged down. The Chiswick machine was purring now, and it was good to see prop Ben Barkham taking a clean catch from the kickoff (a problem area in the past). Following an electric break by Snook, Steer got his second try. Snook’s afternoon fell apart at this point, not heeding countless warnings from the referee. Having earlier on received a blow to the jaw, he thought Rutledge had scored a try – the referee later confirming he may have given it, but Snook’s countless appeals instead earned him a yellow-card.
There were two more tries, a well-worked one for Luton, splendidly converted in the wind, and a scintillating one by Bunbury, cutting through a wrong-footed defence like the proverbial knife through butter. Cox emulated Snook with his attempted conversion– conditions were certainly tricky.
T: Rutledge, Steer (2), Farrell (2), Bunbury
Chiswick team: Barkham, Campioni-Norman, Rudge-Williams, Copperwheat, Allen-Clarke, Kelly, Biss, Bryan, Lauder, Snook, Steer, Farrell, Bunbury, Rutledge, Lowe; Leslie-Miller, Cox, East
Author: D Lovell