Wimbledon 57 v Eton Manor 0
National League 3 London & South East
Wimbledon brought to an end their losing run in real style on Saturday (February 20), crossing Eton Manor’s line no fewer than nine times, no.10 Neil Hallett adding six conversions. On a blustery, grey, drizzly day more suited to a forward slog, Dons’ display of running rugby really brightened up the gloom.
Wing Alex Kane, in his first full game for the team, opened the scoring after only four minutes, when slick handling by the backs created just enough room for him to outflank the defence. Another new boy, Oli Hewitt, who impressed throughout, dived over from a ruck three minutes later for the second try, and the influential prop Josh Bayford crashed over for the third soon after.
With the pack providing good ball from a settled scrum and plenty of turnovers, and locks Gary Crowe and Campbell Tait (aided by their lifters) dominating the lineout, Dons revelled in their wealth of possession and another flowing backs move was skillfully finished by Kane for his second try of the day. Hallett’s second conversion brought the half time score to 24-0.
This increased to 29-0 a minute after the re-start when a kind bounce from a Hallett chip ahead was grabbed by Kane who strolled over for a deserved hat-trick try.
The mobile no.8 James Hunt was on hand to score the next from a lovely pass out of a tackle by centre Aaron Lowe. Then Bayford got his second after quick ruck ball and a neat inside pass from scrum half Rhys Morgan caught the opposition flat-footed.
Minutes later a typical darting break by Morgan led to prop James Gillespie getting in on the act by running a fine angle to take a clever pass by Hallett and speed over from the 22.
Credit must go to Eton Manor for refusing to give up and limiting Wimbledon to a single try in the final quarter, a beauty by Hewitt for his second of the day, to round off an excellent all-round team performance that will be a big boost to confidence for the remaining six games of the season. With still more players due to return from injury, resources are starting to look plentiful once more, and coaches Easter and Evans will have the selection luxury of stiff competition for places for the next league match away to Gravesend.