Wimbledon Come Close Against League Leaders
Wimbledon RFC 1XV 12 v Tonbridge Juddians 16
With cooler heads Wimbledon could have ended Tonbridge Juddians' unbeaten run on Saturday (October 2).
As it was the visitors scraped a 16-12 victory, leaving Wimbledon with just a consolation bonus point (for a losing margin of seven or fewer points).
For the first 15 minutes Judds' hefty pack provided a stream of quick ball for their even heftier backs to mount attack and counter-attack.
But Don's defence was back to its former high standard and they conceded just six points to Judds' no.10 Barnett before starting their own forays into the visitor’s territory by chasing down an excellent up and under from fullback Driscoll.
Judds' held firm for five minutes until a quickly taken free kick saw hooker Kemp bulldozing to within 1m of the try line, then an eight-man drive put lock Watkins over it. Driscoll’s conversion put Dons 7-6 ahead.
Tonbridge Juddians hit back immediately but again Dons’ defence held, with the back row of Lewis, Kriel and Anquetil excellent around the fringes, and then turned defence into attack once more – and the last ten minutes of the half was played in Judds' half.
Although struggling in the set scrum, by the second half the Wimbledon pack were getting the edge in midfield courtesy of some fine driving play and a very solid lineout, where Watkins and Shearer were exemplary.
Fifteen minutes in, smart spoiling by Anquetil, kicked on by Driscoll and Pyes, produced a fine opportunist try for the scrum half, and Dons extended their lead to 12-6. But a few lapses in concentration let Judds back into their half and a series of good drives by the visitors eventually produced a try for their no.8 Blom with 15 minutes remaining.
Barnett's conversion put them one point ahead, but even when his third penalty extended it to four points, Dons' still looked to have the beating of them. Unfortunately, in their eagerness to do just that, they hurried moves, lost a bit of shape and took some poor options to give Juddians the win.
To end a frustrating day, prop Ben Davies's red card for retaliation will keep him out for a time, while the Judds' centre whose sly punch behind the ref's back started it all, is free to continue playing.
At least running Tonbridge Juddians' team of semi-professionals so close will put Wimbledon in good heart when they travel to Haywards Heath next week.
October 5, 2010