Chiswick off and running

Chiswick  22   Westcliff “A”  17

A well-chosen friendly makes a lot of sense. Both teams tried hard and, despite a few puffs and pants early on, sustained attacking intents throughout the eighty minutes. One white-haired observer thought Westcliffs’ passing superior, ( their first team are, after all, in National 3 two levels up on Chiswick ) others that Chiswick’s defence near their line was outstanding. Players such as the Westcliff hooker and the exciting Chiswick full-back Joe Grindle stood out, but there were very few real weaknesses on either side.

Westcliff settled in quicker than the home team, and were soon organising attacks based on quick short passes, their forwards providing good set piece ball. Their first real chance was scuppered by Luca Vannini getting first to their scrum ball and finding Rory McLaughlin alongside. Grindle hurtled up on the outside, but two Westcliff defenders collared him in the Westcliff 22. Seven minutes into the game, Westcliff scored in the left corner after their centre had left several home players in his hazy wake. Long grass – no conversion.

Dan Godfrey made his mark with a juddering tackle in mid-field, and Chiswick were clearly not going to lie down under the purring Westcliff machine. Andy Ibberson made a lightning diagonal break before Sam Leslie-Miller joined in. Munzi El-Akabi made a bee-line for the posts, and after some fiddling around on the left wing, Rikki Darroch got the touchdown in the corner. Godfrey’s long kick was pushed just wide.

A wayward Westcliff throw-in immediately after the kick-off was seized by a fired-up Vannini, who sent fly-half Andy John sprinting away for a rapid touch-down. Westcliffs’ youngsters then demonstrated brilliantly how to deal with a rather lazily-taken conversion kick, with an emphatic two man charge-down.

Westcliff came back with a well-sustained attack, and eventually breached the home defences, with a conversion following to give them a 12-10 lead. Darroch then made the first of several unexpected takes at the tail of the lineout. McLaughlin was up-ended and the culprit rightly penalised. Chiswick now kept the pressure up, and after Tom Shattock had fallen over a player on the ground, Grindle wriggled his way through to put Chiswick ahead again ; unfortunately the kick was just wide.

Another misfortune then struck Chiswick, Vannini getting ham-strung. Grindle went to scrum-half, and with Simon Hallett coming on for Godfrey, what had been, by Chiswick standards, a well-organised back division, was rather disrupted. Westcliff upped their game towards the end of the half, and a beautiful long cut-out pass put their player in for a try in the left corner. No conversion followed, and at the interval  the visitors had a two point lead.

Early on in the second half, Grindle put Chiswick back in the lead, and with John alert to the situation, the conversion followed. There was a lot of incident to follow, with Chiswick defending well, even when down to fourteen after a sin-binning, but no further score as substitute rapidly followed substitute in the pleasantly warm conditions. Westcliff got a little untidy as they tried harder to get their noses in front again. They looked after one good attack, to have scored in the right corner, but a last ditch tackle by John just got the player into touch. Chiswick survived a panicky period, but finished solidly on the attack. A satisfactory performance.

Chiswick players :-  Shattock, Biss, El-Akabi, Eggleston, Pickering, Reedman, Darroch, Leslie-Miller, Vannini, John, Ibberson, Godfrey, Sutherland, McLaughlin, Grindle, Tonkin, Murgatroid, Adams, Dibble, Gray, Hallett, Dimitriadis, Cooper


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