Havant 29 v Wimbledon 29
London League 1 South
Match report for October 18
Two points for the draw plus a 4-try bonus point was a pretty good return for a below par performance from Wimbledon and Havant will be wondering how was that they didn’t secure maximum points for themselves; they dominated the set scrum throughout and generally were quicker to the breakdown, winning numerous turnovers. Above all, in the first half particularly, they took their chances well while Dons squandered far too many well-created try scoring opportunities.
The match got off to a poor start for Wimbledon with prop Ben Davies injured in the opening seconds and having to be replaced by James Snape. Although immediately under pressure in the scrum, good lineout work, especially from no. 8 Gary Crowe, ensured Dons won plenty of ball and they had the better of the first quarter, but with nothing to show for it. Then a turnover by Havant and a chip ahead produced a try for stand-off Sweeney, converted by Knight.
Ten minutes later, having thrown away another scoring chance, Wimbledon’s lock Campbell Tait scored after a nice break by Neil Hallett, who then added the conversion and followed up moments later with a successful penalty kick. On the stroke of half time though, Havant took the lead again, with centre Morris scoring from a 5m lineout after Dons were caught offside.
Almost from the re-start Havant stretched their lead to 19-10 when a flowing backs move ended with a try for their no.8 Warren-West. Wimbledon’s Bryan Croke produced a great tackle to prevent another Havant score five minutes later, but the home side’s greater passion soon brought them three more points from the boot of Knight. Dons soon hit back though with a try by Crowe following a quick tap penalty from scrum half Charlie Morgan in Havant’s 22. Hallett’s conversion made it 22-17.
With injuries to both lock Shaun Renwick and fullback Neil Brown, Don’s sub bench emptied as Rob Tait and Brady Cates came on. Finally realising they could still win this match a re-energised pack produced a fine driving maul and quick ball out saw Croke jink through for a good try. Hallett’s conversion put Dons in the lead for the first time. But it wasn’t over yet; with less than ten minutes remaining Havant’s Knight carved through Don’s defence to score a nice try, which he himself converted to give the home team what looked like a winning 29-24 lead. It was not to be. With minutes left Croke charged down a Havant kick in their own goal area and prop James Gillespie pounced to score the equaliser. Dons could even have won had Hallett’s conversion attempt from the touch line not crept past the outside of the post.
A rather more disciplined and robust performance will be required next week if Wimbledon are to take the points at home against Chobham.