Wimbledon's Bad Performance Is A Mystery

Cobham 32 v Wimbledon 3

London League 1 South

Match report for September 21

Quite how as good a squad as Wimbledon have had for many years can play quite so badly is a mystery – and one that hopefully can be solved by next week.

From the outset Cobham looked the better-organised and hungrier for the ball, and as the game developed they became the better team in almost every aspect of the game. Only Dons’ lineout looked its normal self, with good work from Ed Lewis, Rob Tait and Jack Fishwick and excellent throwing in by Bruce Skjolde.

But they were out-muscled in the set scrum and in the loose – and were slower to the breakdown, although they must have wondered why they bothered turning up at all at the rucks as one of them was almost certain to be penalised! (In an area of the game where both sides are often equally culpable, a first half penalty count of 11- 3 against did seem a little harsh. And when Dons conceded three more within three minutes of the re-start, it was clear that things weren’t going to improve.)

Pinned deep in their own half for long periods and against a backline soon brimming with confidence, Wimbledon’s backs fared no better than their pack, throwing wild passes and too often snatching at (and dropping) the ball.

Twenty minutes in, after two penalties for Cobham’s Smeddle and one to Bryan Croke – whose Wimbledon debut was one of the few positives – Dons lost their own scrum on the 22, then their hooker Skjolde to a yellow card – and after several drives and penalties against them, conceded a pushover try. Smeddle converted, as he did the next, ten minutes later, when Wimbledon players stood back to watch a harmless-looking kick bounce into the arms of Cobham’s wing, MacDonald, who ran in a simple try. Just before half time Dons launched its first serious attack, through centre Tommy Moore, but it ended inevitably in a Cobham penalty.

After the opening flurry of penalties in the second half had duly produced a second pushover try for Cobham, the game was effectively over at 25-3. There were a couple of strong runs from Dons’ centre Neil Brown and prop Pete Wallace, but they petered out at the breakdown. To round off a miserable day, wing Josh Charles was shown Dons’ second yellow card, centre Aaron Hopkins went off with a bad facial injury, and Cobham scored their fourth try, again converted.

Wimbledon will just have to put this game down to experience and look forward to the home fixture against Beckenham next week.

September 22, 2013