Transformed Wimbledon RFC Are Top Of The League Again

Rugby result: Wimbledon 29 v Dorking 19

London & SE Premier League, 3 November

At 5-19 down at the interval it looked as though Wimbledon were heading for a second successive defeat, this time to fourth-placed Dorking. But a transformed team emerged for the second half. The pack, which had struggled in the first half began to dominate, the backs started to create chances and the previously flakey defence proved rock solid. 24 unanswered points later Dons left the field deserved victors.

The match had begun well too when fullback Phil Chesters raced down the touchline to score in the corner after just two minutes. But it went downhill from there, with poor handling, poorer options and the simplest of plays going wrong. Dorking’s first try five minutes in came after a dreadful Wimbledon lineout on their own 22  had gifted the ball to Dorking’s backs, enabling centre Chambers to score beneath the posts and Hatton converted easily.

With the blustery wind causing Dorking errors too it was a scrappy half, much of it in Don’s terroritory, and made worse for them when two awful kicks into the grateful arms of Dorking’s fired-up backs both resulted directly in tries for the visitors, first by wing Hatton, who then converted the second by scrum half Kertill.

Straight from the re-start though Wimbledon’s pack began to show the form of earlier in the season, providing the platform for the team to spend most of the half on the attack, and it was only a matter of time before centre Toby White clinically finished off a good passage of handling. At 10-19 the unlikely suddenly looked very possible.

And so it proved, with Dorking pinned in their own half for much of the time and Wimbledon locks Rob Louw and Alex Cambell winning excellent lineout ball, it wasn’t long before the pack drove over for try number three. Dorking weren’t about to roll over and fought back well, but Don’s confident defence kept them at bay during their occasional foray in Don’s territory. A couple more Wimbledon tries went begging with wing Josh Charles clear and shouting for the ball, first an errant pass then a touch of white line fever denying him both opportunities. 

Fortunately the lapses didn’t prove costly as the pack, after no fewer than four collapsed scrums by Dorking, earned a penalty try and a 22-19 lead. That was consolidated with five minutes remaining when the pack, as one, rumbled over the line again and centre Freddie Hooper added the finishing touch for two points.

This was a very good win in the end and takes Wimbledon back to the top of the league. Their next match, in two weeks time, is away to Brentford.

On the adjoining pitch Wimbledon 2nd XV also had an excellent result, beating Esher 2nds 33-17.

November 7, 2018