Hemel Hempstead 12 Chiswick 34
After the debacle of a missing referee, this match which should have been a Chiswick home fixture was ordered to be played at Hemel Hempstead, on an International day. Each team had players missing, therefore, and took a while to settle down. Indeed Chiswick had no substitute for the backs, putting them under extra pressure. The Hemel nerves showed early, as having done well to repel a strong Chiswick attack, a panicky kick for touch followed. Ten minutes in, and what seemed to have been taken for granted happened, with inside centre Ray Brooks making a strong break through some flimsy tackling, and putting Dan Sutherland in for the first Chiswick try, well-converted by Simon Hallett. With an eager captain, Luca Vannini, back after injury, Chiswick kept the pressure up, and Hallett soon added three points with another good kick.
Hallett got another penalty goal, and then Vannini’s persistence got him a try, again converted. With Phil Gray competing well at the tail of the lineouts, and Jon Joyce showing great flexibility at the front, Chiswick held their own in this department, whilst their scrum did well, No.8 Matt Cooper being able quite often to set up attacks breaking from the back. Hemel had a lot of possession, but tended to squander good opportunities.
In the second half, Chiswick dominated the early exchanges, and Hallett kicked two more penalty goals. Shortly after, a neat interpassing movement down the left wing was followed by a chip-and chase, with Vannini shading the opposition to touch down in the corner. Hallett was really in form, and again had no problems with the kick. Rory McLaughlin was making light of an injured arm, and regularly took on three or more of the opposition. Vannini then scored his second try of the game ( duly converted ) after the forwards had laid siege to the home line. The important bonus point try, the best of the four, came after a hopeful high defensive kick by Hallett, from the 22, had been rescued by McLaughlin, who released Tom Steer to sprint down the right wing and finally find Sutherland in space on the inside.
Hemel came back strongly in the closing five minutes, showing more confidence than at any stage before, and they ran in two good tries, the second being converted seconds before the final whistle.
Chiswick team :- Shattock, Dibble, Chraplewczyk, Joyce, Fatsis, Adams, Gray, Cooper, Vannini, Hallett, Dimitriadis, Brooks, Sutherland, McLaughlin, Steer, Joubert, Poon, Wilson