Wimbledon 39 v Westcliff 15
National League 3 London & South East
Westcliff came to Wimbledon on April 2 needing a win to keep alive their slim hopes of remaining in the league next season, but in the first 20 minutes, when they conceded two tries, it looked as though they were reconciled to relegation.
To be fair though, not many teams could have prevented Bryan Croke’s first try two minutes in. It came from a lovely passage of play started by wing Tommy Moore in his own 22 and continued by scrum-half Rhys Morgan and wing Josh Charles. Most wouldn’t have prevented Noah Jarvis’ try a few minutes later either, which was aided by fellow centre, Aaron Lowe and Charles again.
But Wimbledon’s fluency then seemed to wane and errors gave possession to the visitors. They took full advantage and a try by centre Crossley came after 10 minutes spent mostly in Dons’ half. Westcliff got a second five minutes later by wing O’Brian,well converted from the touchline by Dudman, who followed up with a penalty to give his side a 12-15 lead at half time.
The second half opened with a superb individual try by Dons’ fullback Lloyd Davies, who gathered in his 22, darted through two small gaps and outsprinted the defence to score beneath the posts, giving Croke a simple conversion. But Dons switched.off again and with the set pieces pretty evenly matched, it was Westcliff’s ability to keep hold and quickly recycle the ball that put them in the driving seat for the next 20 minutes. Only excellent defence, including a tackling masterclass from Moore, kept the visitors out.
In the final quarter though, Dons got it together again and after a typical Morgan break from a ruck, backed up by flanker Ben Simmons, Moore was on hand to speed over the line and score. Croke missed the conversion but then stretched the lead to 25-15 with a penalty from the 10m line.
From the re-start prop Josh Bayford bulldozed upfield, supported by three other forwards, quick ball went wide to Moore again, who left two defenders for dead to score his second try of the day, again converted by Croke.
In the last action of the game replacement centre Jack Reville did what he’s been doing for the 2nd XV all season and carved through Westcliff’s defence to score a fine try. Croke’s conversion brought up the final score of 39-15.
A different proposition for Wimbledon next when they travel to third-placed East Grinstead.