Rugby result: Wimbledon 36 – 20 Bedford Athletic
London & SE Premier League, 15 September
With injuries and holidays resulting in another new-look Wimbledon team taking the field, the 36-20 win over a good Bedford Athletic side was further proof of the club’s strength in depth.
Their performance though was a bit flat at times, so coach Neil Hallett was pleased at how they’d managed to grind out a victory. Wimbledon got off to a flier as lock Ben Turner burst over from a fine driving maul to score after just 90 seconds.
But there was a swift response from Bedford moments later as their pacey backs created a try for centre Dave Simpson. Keeping possession well the visitors launched a series of attacks, well-defended by Dons until a perfectly judged kick by no.10 Leo Mortimer was well taken at speed by wing Josh Cassell as he slid over Dons’ try line.
Dons levelled the score at 10-10 when scrum half Campbell Musson nipped through a gap in defence following an excellent scrum and driving maul and fullback Freddie Hooper’s conversion gave Dons the lead again. They increased it almost immediately when hooker Bradley Ugodulunwa broke from a maul, Musson kicked to the wing and the flying Phil Chesters made a searing run before slipping the ball back to Musson who ran round under the posts. Hooper’s two points extended the lead to 19-10. Then, consistent with grumbles from the touchline coaches that “Wimbledon are making them look good,” Dons spent much of the remainder of the half defending, but limited the damage to a penalty and three points from Mortimer.
With the set pieces again working well Wimbledon started the second half positively and from good ruck ball, first wing Josh Charles then no.10 Will Taylor made half breaks before wing Kieran Morris outsprinted his opposition to score the bonus point try and put Dons 24-13 ahead. But good Bedford pressure, some half-hearted Dons’ tackling and an iffy penalty gave the visitors a 5m lineout, and 5 phases later Cassell was put over for his second try, well converted by Mortimer – reducing Dons’ lead to a worryingly slender four points.
The last ten minutes however, showed why Wimbledon are top of the league. The forwards, still on top in the set scrum, further raised their game in the loose; replacement prop Abu Abdul set off on one of his powerful surges, then player/coach Rob Louw, also on as a replacement and on his debut, swatted aside three defenders to score in the corner. Hooper’s touchline conversion split the posts, making it 31-20.
The final score was a classic: a break by centre Toby White from his 22 was followed by a touchline sprint from Morris who re-gathered his own, highly original chip over the defence before shipping the ball to Chesters, who ran in unopposed.
That Wimbledon made harder work of this match than necessary, yet came away with a good win bodes well for the season, which continues next week away against Shelford.
September 17, 2018