Tabard 5 Chiswick 26
Wet longish grass at Radlett, combined with a hard-tackling Tabard team, turned what was apparently going to be an easy four points into a grind, and Chiswick were happy to get their bonus point just before the end. Radlett’s fly half had an excellent game, but their pack just could not cope in the scrums and mauls, nor could they win ball at Chiswick lineouts ( a much improved area of play for the visitors ). With ball in hand, however, Tabard made a lot of ground, and they also defended well near their line.
Early Chiswick pressure was followed by a breakout taking Tabard up inside Chiswick’s 22, some good tackling being necessary to stop a fleet-footed Tabard prop. Several Chiswick attacks were fairly easily thwarted, but after twelve minutes Tom Steer and Sam Leslie-Miller ran from deep, and once Dan Sutherland was found in space, Tabard were in trouble. Steer arrived in support, and cruised over the line. Simon Hallett, at inside centre, added the points.
Chiswick fluffed their catching drill at the kickoff, and Tabard had a period of pressure, with James Dibble prominent as he energetically tackled one after another of the home players. Twice Tabard were over the line, but held up, the first time being after their fly half had dummied his way nearly to the line. The wet ball caused problems, with both teams slipping and spilling passes, and sometimes luck took over, as when Marco Chraplewczyk’s reaction at the tail of the lineout to the unexpected arrival of the ball resulted in scrum half Ross Dovey setting up a quick attack. Five minutes before half time, Tabard had a really good passage of play, culminating in a try in the right corner, and a yellow card for Chiswick. The kick just failed.
Chiswick, with Simon Allen-Clarke able to prop, and a big scrum advantage, were not too discommoded by the yellow card, and began to up the ante. Allen-Clarke made a great surge for the line, only to be pulled down by his shirt, and Hallett decided it was time to cut in and use his strength. He managed to get the ball down just over the line, and then got the conversion, via the post. From then on the result was not really in doubt, the question was, could Chiswick get two more tries and a bonus point. They managed it, just, not helped by an inability to get the ball out rapidly to the wings, with both Chris Hitchcock and Hallett tending to drift across before passing, leaving Max Burrows to straighten the line. It was Burrows who got the third try, carrying a couple of tacklers over the line after Leslie-Miller had broken from the back of a scrum in Tabards’ 22. The kick failed.
Chiswick changed the formation at the back, with Gabs Lowe coming on at full back, Hitchcock being replaced by Hallett at fly half. Still the usual bite was lacking, but Hallett’s neat little chip caused a problem for the home defence. James Bunbury, after a frustrating afternoon of being stopped by last ditch tackles, picked up an injury, and Hitchcock returned for the final period. The Chiswick pack finished the match in style, with a pushover try, Leslie-Miller getting the touchdown, and Hallett the conversion. With HAC walloping London Nigerians, and Harpenden falling to Belsize Park, the league gets interesting.
Chiswick team: Shattock, Dibble, Chraplewczyk, Copperwheat, Allen-Clarke, Joyce, Biss, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Hitchcock, Steer, Hallett, Burrows, Bunbury, Sutherland; Filbey, Bryan, Lowe
T: Steer, Burrows, Hallett, Leslie-Miller
C: Hallett (3)