Old Redcliffians 28 – 29 Wimbledon
At last! After several near-misses this season Wimbledon finally secured their first victory in League 2. As the score indicates though, it was a real nail-biter towards the end and Dons did well to withstand a fierce ten minute onslaught by a hard-running Reds side.
The opening ten minutes was all Wimbledon with scrum and lineout working well and backs and forwards linking effectively and aggressively. But it was Reds’ wing Fry who scored first, taking advantage of a Dons’ defensive mix-up and sprinting in from his own 10m line. Wimbledon hit back quickly after flanker Dom Rice charged down a kick and won a penalty on Reds’ 22. Dons opted for the touch kick, lock Alex Campbell won clean lineout ball, the pack drove over and no.8 Kane Alboni made no mistake with the touchdown. Fly-half James Doe secured the two points on offer and then added three more after the backs and forwards had combined well to get deep into Reds’ territory. The Bristolians came straight back and the referee signalled them a penalty, taken quickly (before he’d blown) and with Dons all out of position, Reds’ winger Bird flew into the corner for a try.to level the scores at 10-10.
On the half-hour a penalty conversion by Reds’ no.10 Groves gave them a 3 point lead, soon cancelled out by a try from Rhys Morgan following his own quick tap penalty 5m out after a great Wimbledon attack and drive after drive at Reds’ line had eventually won the penalty. Doe’s conversion gave Dons a 13-17 lead. But it switched hands again when, in the last play of the half, Bird got the ball in his own 22, evaded several Dons tacklers, and ran the length of the field to score. 18-17 at half time..
Wimbledon started strongly in the second half, but having done the hard yards, twice gave possession back to Reds to kick back deep into Dons’ half and apply their own pressure, soon gaining them three more points from Groves’ boot. Then, ignoring medical advice from Dons’ physio that he was fir to continue after a clash of heads, the referee dispatched the influential Alboni (as he did to the powerful wing Sam O’Leary-Blade soon after), disrupting Dons’ scrum. But with 15 minutes remaining scrum half Morgan got Wimbledon’s third try, created by a lovely break by flanker (now no.8) Niall McSweeney. Almost from the re-start replacement wing Harry Tabb neatly intercepted a pass on his own 10m line and outsprinted Reds to score under the posts. Doe’s conversion made it 21-29 and Dons dared to hope.
Keeping possession, Reds fought back strongly and eventually centre Joseph burst through two tackles to score; Groves added the extras and there was 1 point in it! Dons hung on determinedly and the final kick into touch brought a cheer of exhilaration and no little relief. All involved from Wimbledon will hope for the same result but less of a cliffhanger next week away to Worthing