Wimbledon's Fitness Earns A Draw In Testing Conditions

Rugby result: Chingford 17 v Wimbledon 17

London & SE Premier League, 10 February

Wimbledon RFC

The seasonal weather conditions made this fixture a tough test for both teams with a high wind blowing straight down the pitch and heavy overnight rain having made the pitch very wet. Chingford had their members sponging up surface water before the match to try and improve things but the pitch was playable and a match of attrition followed.

Wimbledon started with a try after just three minutes from wing Phil Chesters who scored wide out on the left, centre Freddie Hooper was unable to convert, this had followed a kick to the right and a good Wimbledon lineout, the ball was moved down the line and Chesters took the try well rounding the defence.

But Chingford’s restart kick was fumbled by Wimbledon and from the resulting scrum they gained a penalty, their outside half Scott Meaken was unable to convert into the strong wind.  Wimbledon fullback Matt Gilbert made a big clearance with the wind behind him, pressure on the Chingford scrum led to a penalty for Wimbledon with Chesters tackled five metres out, Wimbledon’s scrum-half Aaron Booth burrowed his way over for the second try on 22 minutes.

Hooper was unable to convert but with time running out before they faced the wind in the second half, Booth earned himself a yellow card on 37 minutes.  An injury to tighthead Jordan Saunders sent on Bradley Ugodulunwa, just as the half was finishing Chingford pressure earned a try to their no.8 Matt Bolt when he grounded the ball in contact with the posts.  Meaken’s kick was good and with half time and the wind now in their faces a hard second half was in prospect for Wimbledon.

Chingford started with their pack gaining ground and forcing Wimbledon into defence but is was 23 minutes of the second half before Wimbledon conceded Chingford a chance to score, Meaken made no mistake with the teams now level on 10 – 10.  But with the Wimbledon scrum on top the defence held, eventually on 33 minutes Chingford replacement wing Onuraha scored in much the same place that Chesters had scored in the first half, Meaken added the two points and Wimbledon were behind 17 – 10.

The outcome changed, on 75 minutes of the match a Chingford player was sent off for punching and with a reduced opposition Wimbledon took their chance for a long period of attack close to the Chingford line, this yielded a series of penalties close to the line for Wimbledon and eventually the referee ran out of patience and awarded a penalty try to even the score.

Again, Wimbledon had to be careful with the strong wind, a Chingford restart could take play to deep into their half, but the time ran out and the match finished as a draw. The final outcome of this match was a tribute to Wimbledon’s fitness as a tiring Chingford pack eventually conceded the ground to give Wimbledon the field position for the final try.

Next Saturday Wimbledon will be at home, we hope in better weather, to Guildford with a 2.30pm kick-off.

February 11, 2019