Wimbledon Get Win Despite Poor Performance

Wimbledon RFC 1XV 13 v Effingham & Leatherhead 11

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This was a poor performance from Wimbledon and a good one from the Eagles who, for most of the game on Saturday December 10 appeared hungrier for the win, better organised and less prone to errors.

And once again Wimbledon conceded far too many penalties, although at least the front row, for once, were not seen as the culprits. The penalty count contributed to Dons being contained in their own half until the 25th minute when, against the run of play, their first fluent (ie mistake-free) backs move ended with wing Jonny Rawlinson running in a good try in the corner, which was well-converted by Leon Driscoll.

The score seemed to energise Wimbledon for a while but a series of penalties allowed the Eagles once again into Dons' 22, from where no.10 Brian Collins converted a penalty. Then, despite a harsh yellow card for no.8 Karl Roche, Dons’ pack finished the half on a high with some good drives, the last resulting in a penalty put over for three points by Driscoll.

The second half started much as the first had, with another string of penalties forcing Dons back to their line, and Eagles took advantage of their extra man to put wing Richard Smith in for a try. The conversion missed, Dons still led, but only by 10-8.

That changed 15 minutes later when a second Collins penalty after intense Eagles pressure gave them a one point lead. And the task began to look daunting for Wimbledon when replacement fullback David Hayes was sin-binned for a late tackle just seconds after arriving on the field..

From somewhere though, the Wimbledon pack summoned up some of their early season form for the final ten minutes, forcing a tiring Eagles team back into their 22 and producing two penalties of their own. Driscoll's first conversion attempt, from near half way, fell just short, but the second, from around 45m and with just four minutes remaining, he struck beautifully between the uprights to conjure up for the team – in the words of coach James Ogilvy-Bull – a very narrow escape.

The win keeps Wimbledon in second place in the league, tied with Guildford, but to stay there they will need next week to revert to their form of a month ago and notch up their second victory of the season over London Cornish. Playing a full 80 minutes with 15 men would certainly help their cause.

December 14, 2011