Wimbledon returned to London One at the first time of asking as they beat Charlton Park 18-6 on Saturday.
The Dons, relegated last season, finished as runners up in London Two South West and played off against the London Two South East runners up in a competitive fixture they managed to edge.
It wasn’t a pretty game – both defences were too good to let the opposition run free – but there was plenty of good rugby played and it was tense right up until Wimbledon’s fly-half Dan Brown put an end to Charlton Park’s late charge with a drop goal three minutes from full time.
Although Wimbledon had the bulk of possession and spent most of the first half in Park’s territory, all they had to show for their dominance with three minutes remaining was a Leon Driscoll penalty.
Then, centre Dave Rees crossed the line after a well worked backs move, only to be called back for crossing. It didn’t matter though, as fellow centre Kua Pakalua fought his way over in the corner seconds later.
Immediately after the re-start Park’s lively stand-off, Jake Smith, brought his side back into the game with a well-struck penalty, then a second after Brown was yellow-carded.
But, tighthead Joey Nanai put Dons 13-6 ahead when, after several powerful forward drives, he scooped the ball out of a ruck, vaulted the bodies and ran in unopposed to score beneath the posts. Driscoll made no mistake with the conversion.
Although Park fought back hard in the last quarter, Wimbledon comfortably countered their sole tactic of using their hefty forwards to attack round the fringes, and they rarely threatened Dons’ line.
As with their play throughout this season, there were no stand-out stars in Wimbledon’s game – it was simply another excellent all-round team performance by a skilled and highly motivated group of players that will be a force to be reckoned with at the higher level.
Although the league season is now over Wimbledon travel to Sutton & Epsom on Thursday evening to play for a place in the Surrey Shield final.