Wimbledon 1XV 25 v Cobham 3
This was one of the most spirited and skilful Wimbledon performances for a long time. Despite eight changes from the previous week there was a great blend of individual flair and team work, and the influence of the coaches, on and off the field, very evident.
But after the first quarter of this Friday evening floodlit match the resounding Wimbledon victory that was to follow looked unlikely as Cobham’s pack put Dons’ set scrum under huge pressure and several of their driving mauls looked ominous.
One such, after Cobham’s Charlie Mortimer and Wimbledon’s Jonny Rawlinson had exchanged early penalties, ended with the visitors laying siege to Dons’ line for a full five minutes.
Had they scored then, the outcome might have been different. As it was – despite a somewhat harsh yellow card for Dons’ flanker Llewellyn Waters – they defended heroically and even finally secured turnover ball. They worked it quickly upfield where they gained a penalty which Rawlinson converted – and took control until the closing quarter, when Cobham fought back strongly but in vain.
Although a second dubious yellow card (this time for centre Trevor Grundeling) briefly reduced their number to 13, it was Wimbledon making all the running. Their first reward for playing the more enterprising rugby came close to half time, when scrum half Alex Pyes – who had a good first outing of the season – broke blind from a scrum, passed to centre Guy Stirling who linked with his forwards to bulldoze to the line for wing Ben Sykes to grab a try, well converted from out wide by Rawlinson to make it 13-3 at half time.
In the second half the whole back line, well-marshalled by no 10 Elroy Cupido (retired), looked impregnable in defence and dangerous in attack. But it was their pack who scored first with a great drive from a 5m lineout won by lock Ben Morgan and taken on by hooker Nathan Kemp. Rawlinson’s fourth successful conversion made it 20-3.
Grundeling then took everyone surprise with a great run from deep inside his own half, brushing aside defenders until he was brought down just 3m short, when his deft overhead flick was grabbed by Rawlinson diving in for try number three, and Wimbledon were home and dry.
A third mysterious yellow card removed Kemp from the pitch for the last ten minutes, but the 14 remaining players maintained their excellent defence against a furious, final Cobham onslaught. The Wimbledon team, their coaches and supporters will be hoping for more of the same away next week at Chobham.
September 20, 2010