Chiswick started well, with Oliver Snook taking advantage of the breeze to put in a long kick and gain a lineout. Alex Randall found Sam Hood with the throw, and Chiswick had their first maul. When the ball came out, Hammersmith squashed the first surge, but Snook grabbing a pass from the finger tips of a home defender found James Bunbury with a swift and beautifully directed one of his own. Bunbury streaked over, and Snook slotted an easy kick.
With Hammersmith taking the next Chiswick lineout, normal play resumed, and Hammersmith were encouraged to hassle the visitors more. Joe Grindle just lost the race for a ball well kicked down the line. Hammersmith took the next Chiswick lineout, and held their own easily, as they did most of the time thereafter, but then Chiswick gained a midfield turn-over, so honours were even. Full back Gabs Lowe came very effectively into the line for the next attack and Chiswick maintained the pressure, with Phil Gray making a good surge. When Hammersmith finally got the ball, a good long kick was allowed by Chiswick to go into touch. Perhaps not a good idea when you’re not guaranteed to win your own lineouts. On this occasion, however, Rich Bryan took the throw well. Soon after, Bryan made a telling break into the home 22, but Chiswick could not maintain the momentum.
The Chiswick throw-ins were drifting on the wind, making life very difficult for the thrower ( but, noticeably, Hammersmith were to do better in the second half ). The home team now had a good spell, and scored a try following a good take at the tail of a lineout in the Chiswick 22. The conversion followed immediately. Stewy Parmeter now replaced Randall, but Chiswick were then penalised for failure to bind. A poor pass in midfield by the home team almost cost dear, when the ball was kicked through and Tom Steer headed for the line, only to be tackled into touch just short. Chiswick proceeded to keep possession well, for a number of phases, in the home 22 and were rewarded when eventually a number of bodies surged over the line, the No.7 Sam Biss getting the touchdown. Snook added the points.
The centres Tom Harper and Bunbury were working very hard and effectively in midfield where the tackling by both teams dominated the play, the home tactic of using the inside centre to knock a hole not being allowed to work. Grindle and Steer did combine to good effect, but the latter could not quite escape three would-be tacklers, as Hammersmith poured numbers into the breach. Bunbury was brought down five metres out, but Chiswick could not keep the pressure up this time, and half time saw no further score.
The Hammersmith half-backs used the wind well in the second half, with Lowe the victim of the first high kick, being yorked as he dived forward to catch it. Suddenly there was a moment of high quality; Hammersmith, out on the right, saw a bit of a gap in Chiswick’s defence, and a couple of cut-out passes, the last straight into their left wing’s hands, gave the latter room to sprint outside Lowe’s outstretched arm and score in the corner. The excellent kick touched the bar, but went over. All square again. Lowe was soon under pressure again, but made a great run out of defence up to the half way line.
Chiswick now mounted a sustained attack against an obdurate home defence, with a number of phases just short of the line. Eventually they got over but the ball was held up. Hammersmith broke down field, and an excellent-looking line kick was rescued by them, but after one of their players had touched down a lineout was called. Hammersmith missed a kickable penalty as the game remained well-balanced. That was until a moment of indecision by Grindle, who failed to usher a long, hopeful kick into touch, and then miss-kicked it gently towards an oncoming player, with no Chiswick support on hand. Luckily it only cost five points, with a fairly easy kick missed.
With Hammersmith piling on the pressure, it required Chiswick to counter-attack, and Bryan did just that with a good diagonal run. Snook and Bunbury failed with attempted line breaks before a penalty award gave Chiswick a difficult choice. They went for the lineout, and, miraculously Bryan took a good catch. A minute later the visitors got their try, Russ Dovey getting a well-deserved reward for all his hard work. Snook, a natural hooker of the ball, really had no chance against the wind from near the right touch-line. A rare mistake by the fly half, failing to find touch, followed and allowed Hammersmith to get downfield and win a kickable penalty. The kick was atrocious, but Hood did well to clutch on, as it whacked into him, and run it just out of the 22. Hammersmith kept attacking until the final whistle, with Chiswick hanging on.
Author: D Lovell
Chiswick 19 Hammersmith & Fulham 19
T: Bunbury, Biss, Dovey
C: Snook (2)
Team: Cooper, Randall, Barkham, Hood, Bryan, Gray, Biss, Leslie-Miller, Dovey, Snook, Steer, Harper, Bunbury, Grindle, Lowe; Parmeter, Allen-Clarke, Olley