Chiswick 24 Hemel Hempstead 9
Both teams started this match with a view to keeping warm in the miserable wet conditions by strenuous tackling, and no quarter was asked for or given. Vociferous complaints started early, with the visitors objecting to a “dummy throw” at the first lineout, and with four yellow cards to come, the game was not for the faint of heart.
After an unproductive period in midfield, with Hemel just shading the exchanges, Chiswick finally got an attack going, only for Tom Steer to knock on. Andy Ibbersen had a go, with a good dummy, but was soon stopped. Oliver Snook then produced the perfect long cross-kick for Steer, who made good ground before being stopped just short of the line. Snook had followed up, and was on hand to take a pass from Steer and score in the corner. The kick was just wide.
Hemel came straight back with a penalty goal, but Chiswick probed again with Snook’s accurate touch kicking. A bad Hemel throw gave Chiswick a chance, but the ball was knocked on. Hemel kept trying, unsuccessfully, to run the ball out of their 22, strangely, in the conditions, since they finally produced a good long clearance kick causing Chiswick problems. The nippy Hemel fly half was then involved in a good break, with Chiswick forced into last ditch defence. The Chiswick pack then achieved a brilliant heel against the head, with Ryno Lopes breaking away with the ball. He was almost instantly submerged however, the ball was knocked on, and Hemel gained a penalty, which they kicked, to take the lead, after twenty five minutes. Eight minutes later, Chiswick regained the lead, the result of a driving maul from a five metre lineout. The versatile Sam Biss, hooker for the day, got the touchdown, and Snook the conversion.
Chiswick gained a couple of early five metre lineouts in the second half, resulting tamely in a reset and a knock-on. Ten minutes in, and Hemel slotted another penalty. Three points in it, and Chiswick have the advantage of an extra player. They have had a lot of unproductive time in the Hemel 22, indicative of a good defence by the visitors. Yet another good touch kick by Snook gave Chiswick another chance, and this time the powerful Simon Allen-Clarke got possession at the tail of the lineout, but couldn’t quite make it to the line. In the very confusing next passage of play in the Hemel 22 Hemel picked up two more yellow cards and Chiswick were awarded a penalty try. The visitors seemed quite happy with fewer players, and kept playing a good passing game. Chiswick’s cause was not helped when centre Tom Harper, who had put in more tackles than most, got a hamstring injury.
Steer appeared to get a second try after good work with Snook down the wing, but the referee called them back for a scrum. With time running out, scrum half Harry Cox made a dash for the left corner, but was pulled into touch five metres out. Hemel tried to kick the ball clear, but made only a couple of metres due to Marc Copperwheat’s charge down attempt. Chiswick won the ensuing lineout, and after a couple of ineffective attempts, Allen-Clarke showed everyone how it was done, muscling his way over through some tackles. The kick failed, but the bonus point was secure, and London Welsh are only a single point ahead.
Chiswick team: Barkham, Biss, Cooper, Copperwheat, Allen-Clarke, Bryan, Brook, Lopes, Cox, Snook, Steer, Harper, Farrell, Ibbersen, Philipson; Ridgeway, Edgson,
Author: D Lovell