Dons Get Revenge For An Away Defeat

Wimbledon 38 v Dover 23

London League 1 South

Match report for March 1

A sunny afternoon for a change and a firm pitch, in contrast to the torrential rain and mud-patch Wimbledon faced at Dover back in November, gave Dons the ideal opportunity to avenge the away defeat. It didn’t start well for them though, conceding three penalties in the opening three minutes, two of which were converted by Dover’s no.10 Charge. But ten minutes in Dons’ first backs move brought a lovely try by their speedy wing Pete Scott, well converted by Neil Hallett from near the touchline.

A third Dover penalty put the visitors 9-7 ahead, but they lost the lead immediately, with quick ball provided by the pack’s strong rucking giving Wimbledon wing Emmett Naughton the chance to show his ability to shrug off tackles. From the breakdown fly half Bryan Croke made a clean break to run through and score, setting the tone for his excellent all round performance. Hallett again converted.

Another fine run from Scott and a neat chip ahead yielded a 5m lineout from which Dons’ pack drove over powerfully for try number three. Moments later another promising back’s move ended abruptly with an interception by Dover’s centre Sayers, whose clear run-in and Charge’s conversion narrowed Dons’ lead to 19-16. But with five minutes of the half remaining that man Scott, relishing the quick ball he kept receiving, rounded his opponent for the fourth try, followed by an excellent touchline conversion from Hasllett.

Perhaps feeling that a 26-16 lead was sufficient, Wimbledon dropped off the pace a little in the second half, the set scrum – so solid in the first half – creaked a bit, the rucking lost its earlier momentum and acting scrum-half Tommy Moore lacked the protection he had been getting. That said, Wimbledon still managed to produce two more fine tries. The first came from fullback Jonny Rawlinson, joining the back line at the right spot, as he did so often throughout the game. The second began when a bad throw-in by Dover’s hooker was well-gathered by a surprised-looking Joey Nanai and ended with another good break by Croak after a perfectly timed pass from captain Chris Lewis, and a sprint for the line by the no.10.

Dover claimed a consolation try with minutes remaining, after their scrum had at camped on Dons’ line for seven or eight minutes, sucking in their defence to give centre Cooper an unopposed run-in to score. Charge again converted.

The bonus point win takes Wimbledon back to fifth in the league, a position they will hopefully consolidate or improve on next week away at bottom-placed Haywards Heath.

March 1, 2014