Wimbledon 22 v Tonbridge Juddians 17
Wimbledon really wanted this win – and it showed. They got the win – and they deserved it. Apart from the satisfaction of beating old adversaries Tonbridge Juddians, it keeps them just about in contention to avoid relegation.
For the first 10 minutes a Wimbledon score looked inevitable as they kept TJ’s pinned in their own 22 through powerful scrummaging and drives from the lineouts – but eventually TJ’s won a penalty and used the strong wind to kick deep into Don’s territory, a tactic they used effectively throughout the first half. Another such kick 15 minutes in brought them a 5m lineout, from which prop O’Sullivan was able to burrow over for a try, much against the run of play.
With Don’s set scrum and lineout outclassing TJ’s, they kept piling on the pressure, and a break by flanker Chris York, supported by hooker Ben Brooks should have produced a try but scrum half Harry Tabb was caught 5m out. It was a full 20 minutes later before the pressure paid off; lock Andy Hore pounced on loose ball at the lineout, kicked ahead, gathered, and slipped the ball to Matt Gilbert who sprinted the 40m down his wing to level the scores at 5-5.
Just before half time TJ’s again kicked into Don’s 22 and looked threatening until prop BradleyUgodulunwa – who, along with fellow front rowers, Brooks and Josh Bayford, had a hugely successful afternoon – managed to win possession and the danger was averted.
The second half started as the first had with TJ’s defending well against a series of Don’s drives until eventually they cracked and York was the man to touch down as the pack drove over the line. Fly-half James Doe’s excellent touchline conversion gave Wimbledon a 12-5 lead. They bossed the next 20 minutes but a mounting penalty count against them reprieved the visitors time and again. Then with 15 minutes remaining TJ’s scrum-half Edwards darted through a gap in Don’s lineout to score a good opportunist try and the conversion levelled the scores again. But minutes later Doe snatched the lead back for Wimbledon with a classy drop goal.
The game was far from over though and the visitor’s best period of the game yielded a try for them by fullback Coxen-Smith when Wimbledon ran out of defenders out wide. It would have been a travesty if the score had remained at 15-17 and Wimbledon dutifully ensured that it didn’t; with just 3 minutes left the pack earned yet another a penalty deep in TJ’s 22, kicked for the lineout and drove over for flanker Jack Flanagan to score their winning try, with Doe adding the icing on the cake.
This was a very fine performance by Wimbledon and one they will want to emulate away against Broad Street next week.