Rugby result: Sutton & Epsom 35 v Wimbledon 14
London & SE Premier League, 1 December
From a Wimbledon perspective the less said about Saturday’s match against Sutton & Epsom the better. Throughout the first half their travelling support watched in stunned silence as their hitherto dominant pack were anything but, and their back’s defence distinctly porous.
When they did get the ball – which wasn’t often – the moved it laterally back and forth across the pitch until it was thrown forward, fumbled or kicked aimlessly into the welcoming arms of Sutton’s fullback or fly half. And it’s a mystery why they persisted with the re-start strategy of kicking beyond the reach of their chasers so giving ample time for Sutton to gather the ball and hoof it, wind-assisted, deep into Wimbledon’s half.
All that said, the home team played some excellent rugby, creating scoring opportunities and taking them in style. They scored four tries in that fist half, two by left wing Caddy and two by fullback Hurley who converted three of them and added a penalty, to give them an embarrassing (for Wimbledon) 29-0 lead at the interval.
As the second half began Wimbledon looked a different team – much more like their usual selves – and dominated the game for the next fifteen minutes, scoring two converted tries in the process. The pack set up the first, winning a scrum against the head on Sutton’s 22. Scrum half Ben Newman gathered up the quick ball, darted inside his opposite number and outpaced the defence to touch down under the posts for Matt Gilbert to convert easily. Their second try was a typical forwards effort; secure lineout ball followed by powerful driving mauls which earned a series of penalties until the referee had no option but to award a penalty try.
Then, after launching another promising attack, the ball was kicked away again and two phases later Sutton’s no.10 jinked through Don’s defence to set up a breakaway converted try by Jacob, against the run of play, and Wimbledon’s momentum was lost.
Throughout the final quarter, as Dons squandered a couple of half chances, Sutton again looked the more likely to score, but a more resolute Wimbledon defence kept them out, limiting the damage to a final scoreline of 35-14.
However, Wimbledon still top the league, two points clear of Westcliff and four ahead of Sutton & Epsom, with a week in which to re-group before taking on fourth-placed Hertford at Barham Road.
December 3, 2018