Wimbledon 28 v Tring 15
After their injury-ridden season in National League 2 South, Wimbledon returned to London Premier (formerly National 3 SE) with a good win over last year’s third placed Tring. With total dominance in the scrum the margin should perhaps have been greater than 28-15, but four league points against a team with such a good defence will do for starters.
From the first scrum the Tring pack knew what it was in for as Wimbledon drove them almost to their goal line, but two careless penalties by Dons allowed Tring to kick deep into the home 22, where only sterling defence prevented the strong-running Tring backs from scoring. Dons responded with some lovely interplay between forwards and backs taking play to Tring’s goal line and, after one near miss, a huge drive produced a penalty try.
Five minutes later Dons’ pack won a penalty and from a drive following the ensuing lineout the back row broke away and a deft offload by no.8 Chris York allowed centre Toby White to burst through under the posts. No. 10 Harry Tabb’s simple conversion gave Wimbledon a 14-0 lead, but then a rare lapse in defence by Dons’ backs let Tring run in a well-taken try by centre Alex Harrison.
Approaching half time a harsh call against Dons’ lock Alex Campbell for a high tackle and Tring no.10 Jake Olley slotted a good conversion to narrow the gap to 14-8.
Eight minutes into the second half the Wimbledon pack’s scrummaging power earned its second penalty try, but for the next 25 minutes they were unable to increase their 21-15 lead, despite creating several opportunities, one of the best a fine run by flanker Jack Flanagan ending just metres short of the line. With the lineout now working well – Bradley Ugodulunwa’s accurate throwing to Messirs Alboni, Campbell and Flashman paying divdends – Wimbledon looked firmly in control, but a second defensive lapse was fully exploited by Tring’s backs and fullback Zak Michalski sliced through to score – Olley’s conversion taking his team to 21-15, just one score away from Wimbledon.
But Dons’ pack was having none of it, winning a series of penalties during the final minutes of the match. Skipper Josh Bayford ignored simple chances for Tabb to stretch the lead by three points, opting to go for the try bonus point instead. The decision paid off two minutes from time when another big drive ended in a ruck 5m out and Ugodulunwa broke clear and charged over the line, rounding off a great day for the Wimbledon front row.
Tabb added the conversion from out wide to bring the first game of the season to a very satisfactory conclusion. The club will want more of the same away next week to Tunbridge Wells.