Whitton Lions travelled to Chiswick RFC to join forces with Old Isleworthians for this friendly fixture v. a Chiswick reserves side who were without a win from their opening league fixtures. The newly formed partnership of Lions and Isleworthians means that both clubs can offer competitive Rugby throughout the winter and that friendly fixtures can fill in any weeks where league and cup games are not scheduled. With the teams coming together for the third time the scenario remains that both groups of players are getting to know each other, but now we’re getting to understand and like each other and play well as a team.
The game kicked off with a few Lions occupying new roles as the side sought to fill key positions with the best available hands. Alex continued his good work in the front row, at loose head, for the first half and was replaced by French Matt in the second. Again the Lions held up well and Matt especially made some hard yards with the ball in hand.
In the seconds and the loose, Wayne, Mark, Hal, Jimmy, Cameron and their Isleworth compatriots matched Chiswick in every department and it was the hard work from the pack that gave the boys the first opportunity for points of the day. Solid defensive work on the 22 led to a penalty against Chiswick for holding on to the ball on the ground. With a swing of his right boot, 10 for the day, Paul gained us 50 yards. An excellently put together line out saw quick ball to the 9, Grayme playing out of position, who teed up Paul to bundle over his opposite number, with covering tackles flying in the big Irishman found his half back partner who scurried through to the line for a try. Ryan, playing in the centres, converted to level the scores, after Chiswick had opened up with a well worked try on 20 minutes.
As the half progressed both sides defended their line well, with most of the game being played in the middle third. However, another well worked series of phases from Chiswick bought a second try from their right winger. The game was a tad marred when Danny was flying through from fullback only to be unceremoniously thumped onto the floor by a covering Chiswick player, the dangerous tackle resulting in Danny being knocked out and unable to continue.
As halftime loomed, a reshuffle in the backs and the loss of Danny meant that the pace and potency of the back three was diminished. Which would prove telling as we made openings but perhaps lacked the required number of speedsters to convert.
The second half started well for us, Paul setting up Cameron, now the wrecking ball at 12, to thunder over and then, from more good line out ball, making his own scoring contribution, again beating his man in first phase possession. This time having the space to make the line himself. More chances came and went, the impressive Ryan, Andy and Simon all aiding backs moves that almost bought the try that would’ve clinched it. However with Chiswick having scored early in the second half themselves, a breakaway try consigned the new partnership to a second defeat in as many weeks.
A bit of luck and maybe a bit more pace on the bench and a win would’ve been there for the taking. Now the boys focus on a league fixture v. Harringey at the Lion’s Den this Saturday (5th November). Kicking off at 1430 and sure to be an emotional day as the Lions bid farewell to long serving forward powerhouse, Rolf, as him and his beautiful girlfriend realise their dream of a move to Australia. See you in a couple of weeks Rolfie.