Wimbledon RFC 1XV 16 v Portsmouth 22
Almost an entire team of injured Wimbledon players watched from the touchline as the able-bodied 1st team lost frustratingly to a Portsmouth side whose only real virtues were its giant front row and the boot of their no 10 Simon Gregory.
The visitors were also aided, it must be said, by a few somewhat eccentric refereeing decisions, the majority of which went in their favour.
Not for the first time this season Wimbledon conceded a try within moments of the kick-of, when Portsmouth fullback Ben Whitely was given an almost clear run into the corner after his pack had won numerous phases, eventually sucking in too many Dons players to maintain their defensive line. Gregory landed a good conversion from the touchline.
Dons' wing Jonny Rawlinson reduced the deficit to four points a few minutes later after their more mobile pack, with flankers Jason Anquetil and Ed Lewis to the fore, had driven play deep into Portsmouth's half.
Then quick ruck ball and a perfectly timed pass from no 10 Elroy Cupido to Leon Driscoll gave the fullback the half a yard he needed to elude Portsmouth's centre and his opposite number and dive over for a good try.
With Dons now looking the more dangerous, a fine break by centre Mike Willoughby minutes later almost brought a second try, but a penalty cost them the ground gained and a second penalty another three points, to put Portsmouth into a 10-8 lead at half time.
In the third quarter, with both fly halves now kicking for territory, the game became a bit disjointed and, from Wimbledon’s viewpoint, very frustrating as they conceded two scoring penalties in ten minutes, but a second Driscoll try, created by the pack, took the score to 13-16 and, despite the set scrum now creaking badly, a win looked on the cards.
But two more penalties in quick succession and a mysterious yellow card for Driscoll, plus the loss of hooker Nathan Kemp to yet another injury, put Portsmouth back in the driving seat at 22-13.
Wimbledon were not done yet though and a couple of fine forward drives led by Steve May and Julian Callahan took play into Portsmouth's 22, where Rawlinson slotted 3 more points to bring Dons to within one score. And Dons so nearly got it, right at the end and right under the posts – but Portsmouth held the ball up and sneaked the win.
Wimbledon collect a bonus points for the six point margin, but will want more from their visit to Chichester next week (assuming there are enough fit players to assemble a team).
October 16, 2010