Wimbledon 24 v Dover 0
London League 1 South
Match report for September 13
It was a pity for Wimbledon that they just couldn’t get that fourth try against Dover to secure a bonus point, particularly as they dominated the Kent side for most of the game – and after the scintillating opening 20 minutes, when Wimbledon rattled up 24 points, a fifth and sixth try, or even more, looked a probability.
On a hard, dry pitch, made for running rugby, Dons’ backs launched a series of flowing attacks right from kick-off and only a few careless errors prevented a score….until the fifth minute that is, when no.10 Bryan Croke scampered through to touch down his own chip ahead and then convert the try. He scored again – and converted – 10 minutes later, after taking a nicely timed pass from centre Ti Pairama and slipping his tackler.
Then a lovely run from wing Josh Charles set up a great attacking position which saw skipper Eion Mullen come in to the line at speed and at a fine angle to burst through under the posts. Croke had no problem with the conversion, nor the penalty kick at goal which followed two minutes later, to bring up what surprisingly was the final scoreline.
But then, despite plenty of possession from the pack, in which locks Alex Philiotis and Aidan O’Brien showed no signs of their relative inexperience at this level, and in the lineout, where the indomitable Rob Tait reigned supreme (aided, it must be said by Mullen’s throwing in), somehow Wimbledon lost their shape and composure. All too often attempted offloads in the tackle turned into wild passes gratefully received by the opposition, and too many turnovers were conceded in the rucks; together, this gave Dover just enough ball keep them in the game. Fortunately a combination of errors from their backs and excellent Wimbledon defence, both around the fringes and out wide, prevented a score, despite a desperate final 10 minute onslaught from Dover.
But it was nonetheless a convincing win for Wimbledon and if they can recreate the form of the opening period – and maintain it for longer periods – they will be a force to be reckoned with in the league. They’ll be able to have a go at it next week, away to Charlton Park.