A date that has been firmly locked in the diary, Hammersmith & Fulham had been targeting this fixture since pre-season. After a stuttering start to the league campaign and a strong showing the week before against Hampstead at home, we made the short trip up the river to near-neighbours Chiswick who were top of the league standings going into the game.
After some honest words from Coach Jackson, H&F made their best start to a game this season by holding on to the ball for multiple phases and strong running lines from Nick Manning and Taylor Williams. A kick to touch from a penalty resulted in a strong driving maul towards the Chiswick line. A final carry off the back from Steve John, who is enjoying a strong first season with the club, resulted in an early try for H&F which was converted by Joe Carolan.
Pete Benson collected the kick off and after generating quick ball, Williams put James Lo into space who went over in the left corner. Carolan missed the conversion with the score 12-0 to H&F. Chiswick’s back 5 in the pack began to get into the game by slowing down Hammers ball at ruck time and making life difficult for scrum half Mitch Lewis. H&F managed to maintain possession and as half time approached they forced an unnecessary wide pass picked off excellently by the Chiswick wing who ran over 50m to touch down under posts for an easy conversion.
The kick off was brilliantly collected by Williams who made good yards up the touch line. Chiswick’s scramble defence forced a kickable penalty for Carolan who converted. H&F went into half time 15-7 up.
Galvanised by their late try before half time, Chiswick began to take advantage of sloppy Hammers decision making and indiscipline. Their fly half began to play them into the right places on the pitch and soon closed the gap with a penalty kick after 10 minutes. Their purple patch continued with a kick to the corner and strong driving maul from a line out that resulted in their second try of the game. Despite the missed conversion off the posts, Chiswick were now level at 15-15.
H&F were unable to find the fluency they had in the first half and Chiswick now had a strong foothold in the game. Another visit to the H&F 22 and multiple phases later ended with a Chiswick score out wide, which was converted giving the home side a 22-15 lead with 15 minutes remaining. It was then up to the Hammers to find an answer to save something from the afternoon. With the final play of the game, Williams fed tight head prop Jacob Poulton – after breaking a couple of Chiswick tackles, Poulton offloaded back to Williams who touched down just to the right of the posts. Carolan stepped up to convert and the game ended 22-22.
The second draw in 5 games between these sides and two valuable league points considering the competitive nature of London 2 NW so far this season. We are away this Saturday to Old Cranleighans in the Intermediate Cup.
Man of the Match: Steve John
Tin Man: Mitch Lewis
Debut: Ross Anderson