Middlesex Cup Final – 27 April 2019
Chiswick 34 Hammersmith & Fulham 10
Thwarted in their league ambitions, Chiswick made heavy weather, early on, in this show-case match. Conditions were difficult, with a strong, cross-pitch wind, but it was soon clear that Hammersmith had an edge in the scrums. Not in age – two of Chiswick’s front row had 90 years between them – but in shove, and captain Sam Leslie-Miller had another of those afternoons making miraculous pick-ups.
Hammersmith nearly got an early score, only a last ditch tap tackle by Tom Harper preventing their impressive full back, Taylor Williams, from breaking clear. It was James Bunbury who made the first home break, zipping down the left touchline, but just being stopped on the Hammersmith 22. Chiswick then produced a brilliant move, with Gabs Lowe cross-kicking towards the right corner, and finding Leslie-Miller on the full, the latter getting over the line carrying the ball and one defender. The wind defeated the kick. It then caused a high clearance kick by Oliver Snook to hang invitingly for the Hammersmith full back, who launched a counter-attack with the quick left wing Huw Bowen, a thorn in the Chiswick side for several years, in close support, which ended with a try in the left corner, which should have been converted, but luckily for Chiswick the ball was blown over before the boot reached it. Chiswick were now reduced to 14 by a yellow card, and Hammersmith went ahead with another unconverted try in the left corner. They almost immediately got penalised for no obvious reason and questioned the decision, allowing Snook an easy three points, the last of the first half.
Chiswick started the second half with a try in the corner after a successful maul, Simon Allen-Clarke getting the touchdown and Snook slotting a difficult kick. Hammersmith and Chiswick each had a yellow card around this time, but there were no bad moments in this match. Snook’s kicking, with wind-assistance, began to control the match, but the home tackling needed to be good, which it was. Hammersmith were then undone as a double tackle by Snook and Harper achieved a turnover in mid-field, leading to an unconverted try by Max Burrows.
With Rich Bryan and Tom Gadsby getting through a huge amount of work, and a limping Marc Copperwheat knocking holes at regular intervals, Chiswick began to look comfortable. Harper and Bunbury were solid in the centre and no-one looked vulnerable in an impressive home team. The main threat was Bowen, and Dan Purkiss did well to keep pace with him in a long race down the touch-line and slow him enough for the support to arrive in numbers. In return, Bunbury showed how it could be done, with a sprint down the other side line followed by a kick. The crowd groaned, expecting the ball to go dead. How could we lack confidence? Bunbury got it well before the dead ball line, and the crowd erupted. Snook added the points. There was still time for a rejuvenated Stewy Parmeter to crash over the line, and Snook to add the points.
Chiswick team:- Barkham, Parmeter, Chraplewczyk, Copperwheat, Bryan, Gadsby, Randall, Leslie-Miller, Cox, Snook, Purkiss, Harper, Bunbury, Burrows, Lowe; Cooper, Allen-Clarke, Joyce, Roberts, Barton
More photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/middlesexrugby/albums/72157706985225301