Chiswick races in to a 19-0 lead with tries from Jon Olley, Simon Allen-Clarke and Ollie Snook coming in the first 20 minutes but then we’re forced to defend stoutly against a determined Welwyn side who fought back with two tries of their own.
Chiswick know they should have secured a bonus point and put the game to bed, but in truth a win against a side placed just behind them in 3rd was the primary goal. With Harpenden winning, Chiswick still have company but know two good results ahead of Christmas will be key to setting up the second half of the season.
Author: D Lovell
In a dramatic, if puzzling, change in this vital game, Chiswick went from absolutely on top for the first quarter to hanging on grimly towards the end. Possibly the major factor was that Welwyn had much less experience of an all-weather pitch. The rain stopped just before the match started, and Chiswick rocketed off the marks, with the team itching for action after three empty weeks. Jon Olley at No.7 and Harry Cox at scrum half led the way, and even the lineouts were successful! Full back Dan Purkiss was in action almost from the kickoff, putting in a good high kick, which induced the first Welwyn mistake, a return kick going into touch on the full. Chiswick got clean lineout ball, and suddenly Olley was running through tackles on his imperious way to the line. Oliver Snook had no problem with the conversion.
Rich Bryan dealt immaculately with the (good) kickoff, and Tom Gadsby and the backs were off, with impressive swift low passes of the slippery ball. Play swept up to the Welwyn 22, and another try looked inevitable, but Stewy Parmeter dropped Olley’s pass. Another dropped pass eventually ended this period of Chiswick pressure. Not to be denied for long, however, the home team increased the tempo, and a good lineout was followed by a driving maul to the line, where Simon Allen-Clarke got the touchdown. Snook obliged again.
James Bunbury, captain in the absence of Sam Leslie-Miller, was determined to show that the threes could attack as well, and his blistering 60 metre run down the left wing after finding a hole between their outside centre and winger, with an inside pass to Snook after drawing their full back allowed the latter to add five points to the score, although the kick was, unusually for today, not quite good enough. The try was a thing of beauty, and showed the breadth of talent within the squad with all players involved in helping create the space which Bunbury managed to exploit.
A stung Welwyn team finally started to wake up, with more determined tackling, some strong bursts from their forwards, and less errors. Chiswick inevitably went off the boil, and at one lineout, e.g. nobody jumped for the ball. Another good chance arrived, Snook putting in an excellent long line kick after a penalty for a high tackle on Purkiss. Chiswick got possession form the lineout, but Olley was just denied by the tighter defence, and this may have been the turning point psychologically. Ryno Lopes made a brief appearance in place of Sam Hood, but almost immediately was injured.
Snook tried a delicate chip over the Welwyn’s backs, but the visitors’ defence was up to the task.. Matt Cooper now joined the action whilst Olley and Rich Bryan received attention, and for the first time Chiswick were really under pressure.
Chiswick had an early chance in the second half, with a five metre lineout. After a clean catch, however, the ball was dropped. Slowly Welwyn improved, with their large No.8 crashing through two tackles in a charge down the middle of the pitch – up until then he had been pinned behind the scrum due to good pressure from the home pack. A five metre lineout preceded a period of Welwyn pressure, ending in a turnover and a very good clearance kick. Another superb line kick by Snook then gave Chiswick another five metre lineout, but the ball slipped between the hands of the jumper. Welwyn came straight back, and an intricate move involving their wings led to a splendid try for the right wing, a despairing tackle by Tom Steer just failing to prevent the final pass. This was converted.
Tails up, Welwyn took advantage of a number of penalties to keep Chiswick under pressure. Several times they tapped and ran, nearly catching the home defence out – but the tackles were good, until a Welwyn player managed to drag himself over the line before touching down. Soon it was 19-14, and with ten minutes or so left Welwyn were getting anxious, and mistakes occurred on both sides. A long kick towards the Welwyn corner flag looked promising, but Steer could not quite reach the ball first, and Welwyn managed to clear. With a couple of minutes left, Chiswick were down to fourteen players after a yellow card for coming in at the side of a maul, but they kept possession well under intense pressure near their line, with Olley again prominent. The final whistle was very welcome at Riverside Lands.
Man of the Match Tom Gadsby receives his 1kg Tomahawk Steak courtesy of The Meat Room, Twickenham. Presented by Chairman Kelvin Campbell, Coach Andy Barrington and Matchday Captain James Bunbury
Chiswick 19 Welwyn 14
Chiswick: Barkham, Dibble, Parmeter, Hood, Allen-Clarke, Gadsby, Olley, Bryan, Cox, Snook, Cairns, Burrows, Bunbury, Cairns, Purkiss; Cooper, Lopes, Dovey
T: Olley, Allen-Clarke, Snook
C: Snook (2)