Injury-Hit Wimbledon RFC Are Defeated

London Irish Amateurs 48 v Wimbledon RFC 1XV 14

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London Irish's winning margin does not quite reflect the pattern of this game; up front Wimbledon gave as good as they got, if not better – the front row of Joey Nonai, Graeme Symons and Ben Davies in particular – and the periods of Wimbledon pressure were such that they should have created at least two more tries.

Once again Dons' squad selection for the March 12 match was easy – it comprised almost the last 18 players in the club still standing.

But the injury blight wasn't over; centre James Ogilvy-Bull limped off first, then fullback Jonny Rawlinson suffered a bad facial injury, and finally no.8 Steve May, who'd had an outstanding game, had to pull out. The inevitable disruption was almost totally responsible for four of the Irish tries.

And it had all started so well; after Irish wing Owen had slotted three points, Dons kept play in the opposition half until a great scrum forced a penalty, quickly taken by scrum-half Elliott Rowe, who was driven over for a try, converted by no.10 Leon Driscoll. The Irish came back hard and their greater forward strength and cohesion brought tries for Connor and Bentos, both converted by Owen.

But with the scoreline 17-7 at the re-start Wimbledon were still very much in the game until the Rawlinson injury, when first Cunningham then Marszewski used the space his absence had created to score. Owen's conversion took the score to 29-7, which soon increased to 34-7 as Irish started to spread the ball wide for Owen to run in try no. 5.

Wimbledon, however, would not give up, and powerful driving mauls by the pack then quick ball from Rowe and Driscoll put wing Ben Sykes in to the corner. Driscoll landed a fine conversion. But with May now off and skipper Julian Callanan yellow-carded (somewhat mysteriously), Dons were a spent force and first Moore then Owen crossed for tries 6 and 7, both converted by the wing.

London Irish were probably always going to win this game, but without the injuries Wimbledon’s makeshift team would have pushed them harder, and all 18 players deserve a great deal of credit, especially those playing out of position, like flanker Andy Dixon and lock Tim Morris.

March 25, 2011