Relieved Wimbledon Win On New Territory

Rugby result: Bedford Athletic 20 v Wimbledon 22

London & SE Premier League, 5 January

Wimbledon travelled to another new opposition in Bedford Athletic and their recently installed artificial grass pitch.  Their start was not helped by a facial injury after four minutes to captain Josh Bayford who was replaced by James Gillespie at tighthead prop. The captaincy passed to Chris York who when needed late in the second half rallied the team to a great defensive effort to deny the home team a victory.

This did not seem to be the possible outcome when Wimbledon stormed into a 14 – 0 lead after 13 minutes when firstly centre Toby White and then flanker Kane Alboni scored tries, the second after sweeping attacks across the width of the pitch, each time the conversions were made by outside half James Moffatt. The first had come after a centre field penalty for Bedford straying offside and the kick was taken to the left-hand corner, the resulting line-out was won and a drive to the line by the forwards with White scoring when the ball was spread.

But Bedford steadied their effort and gained parity in the forwards and then started to make attacks of their own.

Each team had periods of domination and Bedford’s outside half Leo Mortimore put in some long kicks to make Wimbledon defend with eventually a penalty being conceded 35m out, Bedford’s centre Smith took the points, shortly after this Wimbledon had a chance of their own, kicking to the corner but misjudging the line-out Bedford cleared their line.

Wimbledon attacked again and this time it was Gillespie who was held up just short of the line, but the home team had conceded another penalty and Moffatt obliged from near the 22m line after 28 minutes.

Shortly after this the Bedford forwards tried a period of pick and go and eventually the ball came to the blindside and right wing Harry Sawford-Smith forced his way over. The conversion by Mortimer was successful and at 17 – 10 the home team were right back in the match, Wimbledon then let their concentration slip with a penalty on the 10 metre line, Mortimore again scored it to take the score to 17 – 13.

The half finished with a long kick from Wimbledon’s centre Freddie Hooper taking play deep into Bedford’s 22 metre area but the referee decided that the first half had finished.

The second half saw Wimbledon regain possession from the kick-off, then attack the Bedford line, again Gillespie drove to near the line before the ball was released to the backs and first Hooper then White carried forward and White scored his second try before the defence could cover across to him.  The conversation attempt from Moffatt was missed, but 22 – 13 looked promising for a victory.  But Bedford were having none of this and the middle of the second half was their best period.

A try and conversion by Mortimer followed and at 22 – 20 with time running out a final long period of close-quarter defence for Wimbledon followed. It is to their credit that no penalties were conceded until with the final seconds of the match, Mortimore tried a dropped goal attempt that passed to the right of the posts. Wimbledon breathed a sigh of relief as the referee blew for the end of the match.

January 16, 2019