Wimbledon 32 v Shelford 18
National League 3 South
Wimbledon seem to have perfected the art of leaving it until the last minute to demonstrate they are the better side, only then outscoring their opponents. So it was again on Saturday (April 8); with ten minutes to go and visitors Shelford 15-18 ahead, Dons stopped giving un-necessary, ill-judged or errant passes (as they’d done frequently throughout the game) and scored three excellent tries, one converted, to win by a convincing-looking 32-18.
But it was convincing in the first half, with the visitors making just one serious incursion into Dons’ territory, while Wimbledon looked on the point of scoring half a dozen times. Yet all they got was a single try by speedy centre Matt Gilbert after a long floated pass from Bryan Croke following good lineout ball on Shelford’s 22.
Croke’s conversion and later penalty against a penalty by Shelford’s Cracknell, made the half time score 10-3 – by no means a reflection of the game.
Shelford came out for the second half a changed team and, aided by some slipshod tackling by Wimbledon, scored a good try in the corner by centre Anderson. Cracknells’ conversion brought teams level at 10-10, soon to be 10-15 when wing Peia finshed off another good backs move from half way.
From the re-start Dons pack forced a 5m penalty, which they opted to scrum and no.8 Roy Godfrey powered over to score. Croke missed the extra two points and almost immediately Shelford went ahead again through a Cracknell penalty.
But then, as they’ve done in the previous three matches, Dons dug deep and scored the first of their final flurry of three tries as hooker Ben Brooks touched down from another fine drive by the pack. Gilbert then sprinted over in the corner for his second and finally, a typical darting break by scrum-half Rhys Morgan in his own half was taken on Croke, who produced a scintillating run through two lines of Shelford defence ending in a lovely solo try for the fly-half, which he calmly converted.
There’s break next week for Easter, followed by the final league fixture of the season away at Dorking, although all thoughts will be on the match the week after, the play-off at home against Dings Crusaders for promotion to the dizzy heights of National League 2.