Wimbledon prepared for the top-of-table clash with Gosport & Fareham this weekend by beating Tottonians 29-25 on Saturday.
This was another fine win by Wimbledon, very reminiscent of that against Guildford recently, where they allowed the opposition to dominate the first half and build a sizeable lead before their fitness and resolve saw them slowly overhaul a tiring Tottonians.
But it was a close-run thing with both teams fluffing chances in the final quarter which could have secured victory, before a drop goal from Dan Brown on the stroke of time clinched it for Wimbledon.
It’s something a mystery why Tottonians are in the lower half of the league; their pack’s ability to get to the rucks first and in numbers – and their powerful driving mauls denied Wimbledon possession for much of the first half.
Well, that and no fewer than nine penalties against them for side entry into rucks, two of which resulted in somewhat harsh yellow cards for Joey Nanai and Kua Palakua.
But it was Dons who scored first, or thought they did when prop Pete Wallace dived over the line after five minutes, but the referee ruled he had been held up.
Wallace made absolutely certain though two minutes from half time when the pack made good use of the first penalty in their favour and he powered over under the posts after scrum half Charlie Morgan had done well to secure untidy ball. Dave Sharp’s conversion reduced the deficit to 7-18, after Tottonians had scored three good tries.
Their first was from a surging forward drive from a 5m lineout. Fly half Dave Wood added a penalty after 20 minutes, before their second try, a beauty from wing Joe Lock, put them 13-0 ahead. From the re-start, some rare poor tackling from Dons allowed centre Richard Bush to run in from half way to stretch the lead to 18 points.
A couple more penalties kept Dons pinned in their own 22 for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but then their first proper handling move of the match, with Nanai, Palakua and Brett Box all making good ground, ended with skipper Chris Lewis crashing over for a try.
With Wimbledon now gaining the upper hand, Nanai looked to have scored moments later but again was adjudged to have been held up. It mattered not though as quick ball from the resulting scrum went out to Sharp who cut inside to score try number three.
His conversion gave Wimbledon a one point lead and his next, four minutes later, was of a second try for Lewis who finished off a move starting with a fine break on his own 22 by no.8 Rich Stewart and taken on by lock Rob Tait and fullback Dave Charles. This put Dons two scores ahead at 26-18.
Totts hadn’t finished yet though and Sharp had to pull off two try-saving tackles in quick succession. Then a quick throw in deep in their own half put the visitor’s centre Mike Serle in the clear and no one could prevent him scoring under the posts. Wood’s conversion took them to within one point, but Dons hung on until Brown’s drop goal and the final whistle ended an excellent game.
Next week Wimbledon travel to league leaders Gosport & Fareham, very keen to avenge their one defeat of the season.