Chiswick officially opened their new Artificial Grass Pitch with hundreds of spectators in attendance to watch Harlequin and England International Abbie Scott cut the ribbon, ahead of a top of the table clash against Harpenden.
Abbie Scott presents the Trophy to the CRFC Committee members.
Match Report by D Lovell
This match was the reverse of that in February, when Harpenden took the points at Chiswick, due largely to their backs, Chiswick having pack domination throughout. On the super new all-weather pitch Harpenden’s massive pack, (props reportedly being over 40 stone the pair), although on top in the scrums and mauls, were less effective than they would have been on a mud bath, whereas the home backs revelled in the ability to dart hither and thither against a pedestrian Harpenden back division.
Harpenden had more possession from the start, but Chiswick harried them into mistakes, and it was Stewy Parmeter and Rich Bryan who got the first home moves going. Ten minutes in, Chiswick got a penalty, and went for a lineout. Although eventually getting possession from this, it was only after a knock-on, and the old pattern of unsuccessful lineouts had begun again. Soon afterwards Parmeter got a yellow card for a no-arm tackle, so Simon Allen-Clarke moved to the front row. Harpenden now pressed hard, but a useful maul was wasted with a forward pass in midfield. Fourteen man Chiswick counter-attacked from the ensuing scrum and got up to the half-way line where sub Sam Hood caught the ball at a Chiswick lineout and set up a move which swept out to the left. Centre Tom Harper nearly broke the defensive line before the ball was worked back towards the middle of the pitch with Oliver Snook then producing a perfect kick for wing Joe Grindle. The sevens maestro relished the opportunity to show his talents, and scored in the corner. Snook completed the agony for Harpenden with a brilliant conversion from the right touch-line.
Two try scorer Joe Grindle shows his sevens prowess
Five minutes later, Harpenden reduced the lead with a dropped goal as Chiswick defended fiercely. With Parmeter back on Chiswick managed to stop a threatening maul from a lineout in the home 22. Harpenden then wasted the next chance for a five metre lineout, their penalty kick going dead, luckily for Chiswick. With Sam Leslie-Miller coping well, yet again, behind a (slowly) retreating pack, and Snook putting in good long kicks, Chiswick soaked up the Harpenden momentum. Luck was still with them, however, when a clean break through the home line left Gabs Lowe to guess the attacker’s intentions, only for the latter to slip over. Somehow Chiswick kept Harpenden out until half time, despite giving them loads of possession with a series of penalty offences.
Three minutes after the restart the Harpenden offensive produced the desired result, a pile of bodies going over the home line. The attempted conversion was pulled wide. Immediately Harpenden fatally knocked on the restart kick, and Snook, on the edge of their 22, produced another great kick for Grindle, who obliged again, after dummying inside and going outside for the score. The kick was blown just wide, but a psychological blow had been struck.
This was reinforced minutes later when Chiswick managed to hold up another promising Harpenden maul, and achieve a turnover. Another sustained attack soon followed however, and both Leslie-Miller and Hood needed attention after some desperate home defending. Snook relieved the pressure with a quick tapped penalty and a long pass out to the left wing, where James Bunbury nearly got clear, but the move broke down in the Harpenden 22.
Centre James Bunbury stretches his legs to take possession to the Harpenden 22
Chiswick were now gaining a bit more possession, and Lowe got close to scoring after a multi-phase attack. Chiswick even won a lineout, through Hood again, and after a token maul, with Tom Gadsby just hanging on to the ball and the player in front, it was released, and fed rapidly along the eager back line for Lowe to dive over in the corner for a game-winning third try. Against the wind, the kick was well short.
The final twenty minutes produced no further score, but an extra bit of pressure for the home team when Snook picked up a yellow after dealing, successfully, with a threatening break.
A jubilant and exhausted Sam Leslie-Miller leads the team through the post-match tunnel
Chiswick 17 Harpenden 8
T: Grindle (2), Lowe
Chiswick team: Parmeter, Dibble, Newman, Bryan, Allen-Clarke, Gadsby, Lopes, Leslie-Miller, Cox, Snook, Purkiss, Harper, Bunbury, Grindle, Lowe; Randall, Hood, Dovey
Photos: Phil Wolstenholme
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