Rugby result: Wimbledon 41 v Brighton 24
London & SE Premier League, 16 November
Wimbledon continued their unbeaten run with, in the end, a convincing 41-24 victory over Brighton. The visitors though looked anything but one from bottom of the league and made Dons work hard for their win, especially in the first half.
In a match looking more like 7’s at times Brighton contributed equally to an entertaining 80 minutes. And they were first to score, when no. 8 Taggart shook off the defence at the back of a lineout 10m out from Dons line and went over in the corner, no.10 McIllwaine kicking a fine conversion.
Wimbledon very soon hit back after scrum half Blane Wilson – whose service throughout was impeccable, as ever – put the backs away and centre Jack Reville dummied and twisted his way through tackles to score.
Five minutes later Brighton’s wing Basson raced in for their second try in a blind side move from a scrum on half way. Then it was Dons’ turn again; a deft chip by fullback James Moffat put them deep into Brighton’s 22 and two lineouts and two penalties later no.8 Chris York broke from the back of his advancing pack to bulldoze over for try number two. Moffat’s conversion drew the score level at 12 all. And ten minutes on a second conversion made it 19-12 after several increasingly powerful drives from the pack paved the way for prop Bradley Ugodulunwa to score.
Brighton hadn’t finished for the half though and a couple of missed tackles helped their impressive fullback Morris to help himself to a fine solo try, taking the half time score to 19-17.
It didn’t look ideal for Wimbledon when they took to the field for the second half minus York and the equally influential lock Alex Campbell, but remarkably the re-shaped pack continued their ascendancy over Brighton’s and soon earned a penalty which Moffat put over easily.
Then another excellent run by Brighton’s fullback was finally halted only just short of Dons’ goal line, but a good ruck and a fine clearance by stand-off James Boatman – who had another good all-round game – and Dons were back in opposition territory. From here the backs launched a slick attack, finished off by the forwards, with flanker Jack Flanagan claiming the bonus point try and Moffat’s conversion giving them a healthy 29-17 lead.
Wing Alex Kane then put Wimbledon out of sight with try no. 5 after a lovely break from half way. With ten minutes remaining Wimbledon’s now dominant pack got a deserved penalty try to take the score to 41-17, but Brighton still weren’t finished and another impressive break by Morris led to his wing Shiel running in unopposed for their bonus point try, McIllwaine’s conversion bringing up the final score.
(Back in the clubhouse Wimbledon rounded off a good day for the squad by beating Brighton in a 3-man boatrace!)
With closest rivals Rochford losing, Wimbledon now head the league by six points, a lead they will want to maintain when they travel away to fourth-placed Hertford next week.
November 17, 2019