LONDON TWO NORTH
Roger Coombs admitted Diss were the architects of their own downfall after a late penalty ultimately ended up costing them promotion.
A Matt Richards try from a late rally had put them in pole position for securing an immediate return to London One North in front of a crowd of around 500 at Mackenders on Saturday.
But a costly missed conversion by Jack Keppel and conceding a penalty six minutes into stoppage-time left them without even extra-time to keep their dream alive.
But hugely disappointed head coach Coombs, despite thinking they could have gone on to win an extended game, said they did not deserve anything more than they got with a below-par performance on the day.
“I am disappointed but that’s the game and we gave too many penalties away,” he said. “You can’t win crunch games like that. The play-offs are a one-off and that’s it.
“I think if we had managed to go into extra-time we would have beat them.
“They are a good side and defended very well. We knew weren’t at our best though.”
Coombs had gone into the game saying he had wanted to stick to what they did best and allow an open backs game, but the contest turned into anything but.
“It was all very forward-orientated and it was just one of those things. They didn’t let us settle,” he added.
Diss had been handed home advantage against the London Two North West runners-up courtesy of a better points difference.
In the bright sunshine in front of a bumper home crowd hopes it would be the Blues’ day had been sky high when John Laurie had set the tone by thundering into a big tackle.
And with just five minutes on the clock Peacock kicked them into a 3-0 lead with a penalty right in front of the posts, which had been just reward for a strong start.
But Chiswick began to build their own attacks and after their own penalty, for not releasing, was despatched through Simon Hallet, they took a 10-3 lead in the 17th minute with a converted try after cutting through the Diss defence at ease. Swift hands got the ball in the centre to fly-half Hallet who shimmied through a gaping hole in the home rearguard and offloaded to outside-centre Dan Godfrey to score, Hallet kicking the conversion.
Diss rallied and almost replied soon after with John Laurie, whose sheer power was causing problems, just unable to hold on to the ball two metres out after making good ground following a lineout.
But the big number eight came to the fore shortly after the half-hour mark when he forced his way over from a five-metre scrum as the Blues took immediate advantage of a yellow card for Chiswick’s hooker James Dibble for obstructing the ball. But Peacock’s kick from wide on the right fell just wide.
The home side should have got ahead by the break but a good passage of play instigated by an excellent long kick to touch by Peacock broke down with an infringement at a Diss scrum just 10 metres short of the try line, leaving them trailing 10-8.
Handling errors and poor decisions had been a feature of Coombs’ side’s game while Chiswick had looked defensively solid and not allowed their hosts any room to run down the wings.
This continued in the second half as Diss’ lineout and scrum faltered with the game becoming a real war of attrition in the middle of the park.
A yellow card for Chiswick flanker Tom Adams did not open things up anymore and was soon followed by the hosts’ Paul Cayley joining him in the sin-bin for not releasing, with Hallet’s penalty just inside the 22-metre area given in, controversially in many home fans’ view, for 13-8 after 57 minutes.
Finally a good break out, down the left by Giles West, saw Diss create a try-scoring opportunity, but their opponents held them up on the line and managed to turn possession over.
Roared on by the home crowd, the Blues mounted their late surge and after a flurry of phases, prop Richards emerged triumphant for a pushover try in the far right corner four minutes into added time. The hastily taken kick by replacement Keppel faltered though, leaving the game heading for extra-time at 13-13.
But from the restart Chiswick secured possession in their opponents half and an infringement at a ruck left the referee signalling for a penalty around 30 metres out. There was deathly silence as Hallet lined it up, but his impressive kicking continued to edge them ahead to the away following’s delight before they secured the ball three minutes later to confirm promotion.
Coombs added: “There was not a lot to say to the guys other than we have got this far and we have to build now and win it outright next year.
“If we had kicked it we would have won it, and then we were going to go into extra-time but we gave a penalty away and it was ill-discipline then (that cost us).”
Diss: Richards, Craven, Groom, Bergin, Cayley, Fuller, F Hall (c), Laurie, Burroughs, Peacock, West, Ludkin, Wilby, Holt, Trede. Replacements: Cullum, Bray, Keppel, Scott.