A plucky and determined Chiswick team could not quite raise their game enough to challenge the all-conquering Welsh machine, which included a couple of hundred knowledgeable supporters. Home support was limited to small pockets of fans, doing their best to be heard when Chiswick did manage to keep possession for a while.
Due to an unfortunately dated wedding, Chiswick had two players on debut, and yet another different back division: despite this, there was no score for quite a while, with Chiswick just about holding their own in the scrums, and tackling well, whilst never looking very confident. The Welsh lineouts posed a threat, well-drilled catching and mauling making good ground. The kicking on both sides, by Oliver Snook for Chiswick and the scrum half for the Welsh, was excellent, with both getting good height for their team to chase. After ten minutes, the Welsh had a fairly easy penalty kick, which hit the right post and bounced nearly on the line, requiring a lightning reaction from wing Andy Ibberson. Snook then drilled a long kick downfield to relative safety. In a rare Chiswick counter-attack, the same player made a powerful break, but then failed by a good distance to find Will Ridgeway with his pass.
Ryno Lopes, willing to take the visitors on on his own, was filling in at No.8 and got quite a buffeting fairly early on. He and Fred Topping made a number of telling bursts but the home team could not put together many sustained attacks. In turn, the Welsh back division could not penetrate the solid home defence. After nineteen minutes, a Welsh maul, starting on the home 22, nearly reached the home line, but Rich Bryan was seen to be hugging the ball when the players disentangled themselves. Despite a smart heel from the ensuing scrum, Chiswick failed to clear the ball, and as Welsh got near the line with an overlap Ibberson stretched out a hand (interception?) and received a yellow card. The next Welsh scrum was heading for the home line when stopped illegally, and the referee awarded a penalty try.
Stewy Parmeter came on for new hooker Jacob Perrot, suffering from a minor neck problem caused by the front row coming up in this last scrum, and threw himself into the game with his usual enthusiasm. The Welsh, with an extra player, now used their backs more, and an excellent pass off the ground by a tackled player led to a converted try, with Chiswick doing nothing wrong. A high clearance kick by the Welsh allowed Ridgeway finally to have a run, and he shook off a couple of tacklers before passing. (tackling was the only apparent Welsh weakness, and not a big one). Ibberson came back on as the Welsh slotted a penalty kick ( making it 17-0 ). Soon after, Snook put in a long touch kick from a penalty, and after Bryan had taken a good catch, Lopes managed to get over for a heartening try, well-converted by Snook. At this crucial juncture Chiswick then had a bad passage of play after the Welsh kicker had sliced a penalty kick, saving the home side having to defend another five metre lineout. The attempted home clearance kick was charged down, and somehow the referee deemed a Chiswick player offside, the Welsh scoring an unconverted try in the left corner from the resultant penalty. Their No.7 then made a blistering break from the Chiswick kickoff, Bryan saving the day with his determined last ditch tackle. The Welsh had the last score of the half with an unconverted try in the left corner.
The second half began with a scintillating dash by Lopes from the kickoff, and breaks by Matt Cooper and Topping looked promising, but still Chiswick could not sustain movements. Chiswick did manage to disrupt the odd Welsh scrum, but when they had a real chance, having won their five metre lineout, they could not get the maul going, and were soon penalised for being offside. The next time Chiswick had a five metre lineout they tried using the backs, with Cooper in the line, and with Joe Harlow delaying his pass well, the attack looked more promising, as several players got close to the try line. A rare lineout error eventually let the Welsh off the hook.
The move leading to the last Welsh try began with a poor Chiswick kick out of defence ( similar to that at Datchworth ), caught by the Welsh wing with space to run into midfield before setting up a move finished off by the other wing flying down the line to round the last defender and score. The kick just missed the mark. The match finished with some determined defending, a sixty metre dash by Parmeter chasing a loose ball, and a couple more yellow cards for disgruntled Chiswick players.
Chiswick’s loss to Welsh, combined with their away loss to Datchworth and draw to Hammersmith and Fulham sees them slip to third in the table, with Hammersmith a Fulham 2 points ahead, and London Welsh now 8 points ahead and 6 clear at the top.
Chiswick 7 London Welsh 32
Chiswick team: Cooper, Perrot, Barkham, Copperwheat, Bryan, Topping, Biss, Lopes, Harlow, Snook, Ibberson, Farrell, Haddow, Ridgeway, Williams; Parmeter, Brook, Bibby
Author: D Lovell