Chiswick 33 Hackney 26
On a heavy pitch, Chiswick did well to reverse the result of last April, when Hackney had put 43 points on the (non-existent) board against them. First blood went to the home team after six minutes, a rare broken tackle allowing their fly half, well-tackled eventually by Russ Dovey, to get the ball inside for a try under the posts, duly converted. Chiswick recovered quickly, and put together a string of passes, involving forwards and threes, with excellent handling. It was soon clear that the forwards were fairly well matched, with both teams taking their own scrums and lineouts, but Chiswick having the edge in the mauls. It was from a scrum in the home 22 that the next score came. Ryno Lopes had made a couple of breaks to gain the position, and the pack responded with a short heave forward allowing Sam Leslie-Miller to break away. The ball reached Tom Gadsby, via Tom Harper and Lopes, and he was tackled just short of the line, but managed to reach over for the touchdown. Oliver Snook added the points.
Hackney now had a period of pressure, and a high kick across field in the Chiswick 22 when playing advantage tested Tom Steer and Gabs Lowe, who just coped. The home team now went for a 5 metre lineout, but Chiswick managed to force the catcher to drop the ball, obtained possession and ran the ball well upfield. Hackney came back quickly, however, and having gained a similar position to previously, took the three points on offer to go ahead. Chiswick were soon awarded a penalty on the home 10 metre line, and went for touch. Gadsby caught Alex Randall’s accurate throw, and Chiswick mauled deep into the home 22. They now gained a penalty, and Hackney got a yellow card before Rich Bryan showed his class, taking the ensuing lineout ball, pausing, and then turning and diving over the goal line. The kick failed. Five minutes before half-time, Hackney went back ahead with a penalty kick.
Chiswick dominated the first few minutes of the second half, and with James Bunbury making a couple of telling breaks and Harper demonstrating how to pass the ball through ones legs, it was Lowe who took the final inside pass from Bunbury to put the visitors ahead again. Snook’s great kick from near the touch line soared over the bar. With Leslie-Miller and Bryan enjoying a lot of ball in the loose, and plenty of possession from scrums and lineouts, Chiswick were looking good, although Hackney were dangerous whenever the ball got near their speedy left wing. Luckily this man’s tackling was relatively poor. A yellow card for Chiswick restored some sort of balance, and then a multi-phase move led to the danger man ghosting through the Chiswick defence to score. The kick was pulled left. The raw power of Simon Allen-Clarke was being increasingly used in the middle of Chiswick’s back line, but it was well-organised mauling that achieved the bonus point try, scored by Barkham after a lineout outside the home 22. Snook again added the points.
Hackney applied a lot of pressure coming into the last quarter of the game, but Chiswick were generally in control for all but the final minute, with subs Fergus Leslie-Miller, Fred Topping and Max Burrows coming on and immediately making good contributions to the cause. Hackney did get a penalty goal, but the Chiswick defence was very strong. Bunbury had been probing the home defence all afternoon and finally skipped through one tackle and out-paced the cover defence to score a well-deserved try under the posts, with Snook’s tally advancing to eight points. Hackney were not finished, and in a hectic final minute scored an unconverted try in the corner with Chiswick yellow-carded down to thirteen players.
T: Gadsby, Bryan, Lowe, Barkham, Bunbury
C: Snook (4)
Chiswick: Barkham, Randall, Allen-Clarke, Bryan, Copperwheat, Gadsby, Lopes, Leslie-Miller S, Dovey, Snook, Purkiss, Harper, Bunbury, Steer, Lowe; Leslie-Miller F, Topping, Burrows
Author: D Lovell