Rugby result: Wimbledon 31 v Rochford Hundred 29
London & SE Premier League, 19 October
What a game this was! Rochford Hundred came to Wimbledon determined to extend their unbeaten run of 54 matches, stretching back three seasons, while Wimbledon were equally determined to end it.
And they did, but only just, at 31-29, so maintaining their own unbeaten run this season and consolidating their position at the top of the league.
It was another great team effort; Dons’ set scrum struggled for much of the game against the best pack they’ve faced so far, and credit goes to all eight making their opposition fight for every inch, and to no.8 Chris York and scrum-half Blane Wilson for securing good possession from an often retreating scrum.
It was only in the last quarter of the game that the visitor’s pack tired and Dons achieved parity in the scrums, enabling them to keep play mostly in Rochford’s half and hang on to their slender two point lead.
The match had started badly for Wimbledon, conceding a turnover from Rochford’s kick-off and the resulting try by wing Baird in the corner.
But they came back quickly with a lovely try by their right wing Ollie Kitto after centres Jack Reville and Paul Hendry had created just enough room for him. Stand-off James Moffat kicked a good conversion and over the next hard-fought 15 minutes added two penalty goals to give Dons a 13-5 lead. Then Hendry extended it to 18-5 following a break by fullback Freddie Hooper and a slick inside pass by flanker Kain Rix, and Moffat added the two points.
Just before the interval Rochford narrowed the gap to 20-12 after sustained pressure on Dons’ line eventually yielded a try in the corner plus a conversion for no.10 Greenhall.
Two minutes after the re-start another Hooper break from broken play led to Rix sprinting in for a well-taken try. He so nearly got another moments later, taking on the ball from a strong run by prop Abu Abdul, but had to settle for a Moffat penalty and a 28-12 lead as Rochford’s no.9 was yellow-carded. Dons’ own scrum-half was yellow-carded moments later, attempting to stop a powerful Rochford attack from quick ruck ball. Greenhall finished off the attack and landed the conversion again to take his team to 28-19.
Two more tries by the visitors during the next ten minutes, both scored in similar fashion out wide from good ruck ball, the first by Meads and the second, converted by Greenhall, by Baird again. Suddenly Dons were trailing 28-29 and the next score looked critical, as both sides scrapped for every ball and defences were constantly threatened. Fortunately it was who got the score, forcing errors from Rochford in their own half from one of which Moffat slotted what turned out to be the winning points.
But it was a long and nailbiting final 15 minutes of fierce contest between two evenly matched teams before the ref blew for time.
Next week Wimbledon will hope for a slightly easier ride at home to Guildford.
On the adjoining pitch Wimbledon 2nd XV notched up another excellent result, soundly defeating Esher 2nds 40-17. Not to be left out, Wimbledon Strollers completed a clean sweep with a 31-10 victory.
October 24, 2019