Defeat for Depleted Dons Minor Disappointment at End of Superb Season

Rugby result: Papa John's Community Cup - Wimbledon 29 – 46 Syston

Picture: Wimbledon RFC/Facebook

April 10, 2023

This was a very disappointing end (probably) to what has been a superb season for Wimbledon but, thanks largely to the timing of this match, namely Easter Saturday, they had to take the field with no fewer than ten changes to the side that had notched up their 22 nd consecutive victory last weekend. Brought together at the last minute they simply couldn’t compete with a very well-drilled and determined Syston team. The sight of Dons’ scrum being shoved back rapidly was one not seen throughout this season and the result was that the visitors had probably 80% possession; Wimbledon’s 20% came from their lineout and a couple of rare errors by Syston (unlike Dons who made plenty of them.)

All that said, Dons never gave up the fight and a sterling effort in the last quarter brought them from 10-36 down to 29-29 with ten minutes remaining, only to hand back possession to the visitors and the referee to sin bin no.8 Mark Scott and prop Abu Abdul and award a penalty try to clinch victory for Syston.

As so often this season Wimbledon got off to a flying start straight from the kick-off with a driving maul ending with a touchdown by Scott. But for the next 30 minutes they barely touched the ball and when they did their lack of familiarity with their fellow players resulted in mispasses, knock-ons and wrong options. After conceding three tries, one converted, Dons narrowed the gap to 10-17 with a good lineout win and the familiar drive for the line to score try number two. Immediately after though, a neat chip through put Syston’s flanker in for their fourth.

Normal service for Syston resumed at the second half kick-off, which was knocked on by Dons and from the ensuing scrum another nice chip through their defence saw Syston’s centre run in unopposed for their fifth try, this one converted. Minutes later, constant pressure close to Dons’ line brought them a sixth and another two points to make it 10-36.

Then came Dons’ fightback…two more tries created from a lineout, the first driven over and the second touched down by fullback Olly Thomas and converted by replacement stand-off Regan Botham. Then centre Harry Jinks neatly gathered a loose ball and sprinted in to score beneath the posts making Botham’s conversion a formality and it was 29-39 and Syston looking nervous…until the penalty try that is, and it was game over.

There is a possibility of one or even two more games for Wimbledon; if Syston lose to Bridgnorth next week, Dons will go through to the semi-final of this very strangely organised and to many, meaningless championship. And if they were to win that of course…….

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