Rugby result: Dorking 16 v Wimbledon 27
London & SE Premier League, 9 November
As is often the case when Wimbledon travel to Dorking, this was a very tight game and it was only in the closing stages that Wimbledon clinched a 16-27 victory, securing a valuable try-bonus point in the process.
The conditions were pretty horrible, persistent rain churning up an already sodden pitch and making handling tricky. In fact it was Dorking who coped better with the conditions,Wimbledon making an uncharacteristic number of handling errors, particularly in the first half when Dorking’s line speed added to the difficulties Dons’ backs were experiencing.
Playing with the slope, the home team went ahead after five minutes with a penalty goal by fullback Wilson after Dons had been pinned in their own 22. There were then several glimpses of Dons’ penetrative power but Dorking’s defence held firm until centre Paul Hendry cut neatly through to score Don’s first try. James Moffat – this time out playing at fullback – added the extras.
Dons then failed to gather the re-start and the loose ball was gathered by Dorking’s lock King, who brushed off two tackles and charged in to score, Wilson adding the two points to make it 10-7.
25 minutes in, with the Wimbledon forwards now showing their set-piece superiority, a powerful drive from a penalty ended with flanker Jack Flanagan touching down to regain the lead at 10-12. They lost it again soon after when dissent at a refereeing penalty decision brought Dorking within kicking distance and Wilson duly kicked three more points. For the remaining 15 minutes of the half both teams tried to play attacking rugby but the game simply stuttered from scrum to penalty to scrum again and was distinctly unmemorable.
The first quarter of the second half continued in similar vein until a 25m driving maul by Dons’ pack yielded a kickable penalty and Moffat put them 13-15 up. His pack was now totally dominating the set scrum, surprisingly earning no penalties, and Dorking’s scrum half Smith did well to get the ball away from a hurriedly retreating pack.
Going into the final quarter the Wimbledon back line clicked again and a nice break by centre Jack Reville earned a penalty 10m out and after a couple of scrums got an inevitable penalty try and looked clear at 13-22. But another three points from Dorking’s fullback brought them back within range and it took until the final minute for a slightly jittery Wimbledon to seal the win with a driving maul from a lineout that piled over the Dorking try line and Dons’ hooker Josh Forrester got the ball down.
Not Wimbledon’s finest performance, but still a good win in the conditions and against a well-drilled and combative Dorking side – and one that puts them three points clear at the top of the league.
Next week Wimbledon are at home to Brighton, buoyed no doubt by their surprising victory over Sidcup on Saturday.
November 11, 2019