A poor second half performance saw Chiswick go down to a hard working London Nigerians, but still escaping with a bonus point losing 18-22.
A bright day started well for the home team, aided by the visitors acquiring two yellow cards before apparently beginning to take the referee seriously. Nigerians had a slight scrum advantage early on, but Chiswick kept possession well, and within 4 minutes had opened the scoring with a swift passing movement from the left wing to the right, Tom Steer swooping over the line near the corner. Fly half Chris Hitchcock could not slot a difficult kick, but the omens looked good.
Nigerians soon posted their intentions when Gabs Lowe came into the line from full back only to be unceremoniously, and unusually, stopped dead in his tracks. The visitors’ fly half soon produced a beautiful left foot grubber kick to take play up to the home 22. Chiswick were penalised at the maul which followed a throw to the front of the lineout, and Nigerians useful No.8 helped himself to a try ( not converted) from the quick heel. Chiswick’s kick-off was too long to put any pressure on the catcher ( as were subsequent ones ), and Nigerians took advantage with a short but high kick which really tested the excellent Chiswick captain Dan Sutherland.
Chiswick kept on the attack, and Jon Joyce galloped typically through the heart of the visitors’ defence only to run out of steam, and support, close to the try line. They soon gained a penalty, however, and Hitchcock slotted this one to move Chiswick ahead. The second yellow card arrived at this stage, and at the next lineout a good take by Sam Hood was followed by a short maul and some crisp handling before Max Burrows shrugged off a hand on his shoulder and powered through to score close to the posts, Hitchcock adding the points. Nigerians were soon back to 14, however, and it was becoming clear that with some clever play, and hard tackling, Nigerians were well in the match, despite a lack of speed in the middle of the back line – this was compensated by plenty of weight, as James Bunbury kept on finding out.
A good lineout ( Phil Gray receiving ) and maul took Chiswick close to the line again, but the ball was kept off the ground and Nigerians got the turnover. An over-long Chiswick lineout throw gave welcome possession to Nigerians and a long kick took them into the home 22. Keeping the pressure up, Nigerians soon forced their way over and got to within 3 points of the home score. Chiswick increased the gap to 6 points with a good penalty kick, but just before half time Nigerians romped over in the left corner from the blind side of a maul to reduce the gap to one point.
The second half was fairly even, but the loss of Hitchcock to injury reduced Chiswick’s attacking potential, although the introduction of Rich Bryan and Blair McKinlay gave Chiswick extra possibilities – the former nearly scoring from the back of a scrum in the visitors’ 22, and the latter being in the first scrum where Chiswick achieved a movement forward – a move cheered by the home supporters, who were generally hard put to match the oppositions fans vocally.
Chiswick were finally undone by the growing ability of the Nigerians to act the sneak thief – perhaps their sojourn at Wormwood Scrubbs had something to do with this. On several occasions Chiswick were right through and then passed the ball to the man in black, but the final cut was the unkindest, when a blindside defensive move went horribly wrong as a pass was intercepted for Nigerians to get the winning try.