And a cracking friendly at that…
Chiswick 2s should have been playing HAC 2nd XV in the quarter finals of the Middlesex Merit Table Cup competition, but HAC pulled out, leaving Chiswick, currently leading the Middlesex Merit Table, in the semis of the Cup, which is in its second year.
This match was therefore a friendly. And a cracking friendly at that, the visitors giving as good as they got, with their No.13 spelling trouble whenever he got the ball. Chiswick started brightly, with Mikhail Ahola immediately in the thick of things, and the half-backs Adam Ross and Dave Hill orchestrating the attacks. At their first real sight of the try-line, the home forwards clumped together in a mass, and somehow Ross emerged with the ball and dived over the line for a try. Hill’s kick was a metre wide. Soon after Chiswick did well to recover a loose ball and give James Dyer, out of position on the left wing, a chance to run at the defence. He showed real strength in holding off two tackles before grounding the ball over the line in the left corner. Hill could not convert this one, either. Prop Fred Gnayat was effective at gaining metres, alongside Ahola and Matt Cooper, and it was a while before Battersea threatened. Rory McLaughlin was heavily involved in the action, but the Battersea tackling was good in the centre of midfield. When the visitors finally got an attack going, it required a good tackle by Chris Morris to stop a promising move, and Chiswick showed their first signs of vulnerability.
The Battersea No.8 showed up as the visitors put together a number of phases, culminating in a try by their No.13, after dummying the home defence. Missing a tee, and after the referee had apparently banned a hooded would-be holder of the ball from the pitch, the Batterseakicker’s conversion attempt went woefully low and left. Hayden Watene was getting more and more involved in the home attacks, and began to dominate the lineouts. Just before half-time a facial injury led to the dreaded uncontested scrums.
With the cold east wind behind them, Battersea came back strongly, although their kicker perhaps should have been more ambitious with his touch kicks, where Hill had done really well in the first half. Chiswick struggled to get into their opponents’ half, and when they did they lost the ball. No problem. No.5, Grant Managh anticipated a pass, and got the interception. With flyer Jamie Milais outside him, hungry for a game after a period out, a sensible pass was all that was necessary, and this was provided. Hill found this one easy. Chiswick should have had another try, Ross having the right wing (Joe Ferguson–Lane) outside him and free on the right touch line inside the Battersea 22. The pass was too hard, though, and bounced off the wing’s chest. Ross then carved his way right through the central defence, but Andy Ibberson, fast up in support, was tackled the instant he received the pass. Right on the final whistle, Battersea scored a good, converted, try after patient build-up play.
Chiswick team :- Chraplywyj, Kneen, Gnayat, Watene, Managh, Cooper, Morris, Ahola, Ross, Hill, Ferguson-Lane, Reed, McLaughlin, Dyer, Ibberson; Munzi, Milais.