Wimbledon 32 - Bury St. Edmunds 12
This was an excellent performance by Wimbledon – their best of the season .... Tony Mann reports
National League 2 South. 20.1.18
Wimbledon 32 – 12 Bury St. Edmunds
This was an excellent performance by Wimbledon – their best of the season and one that made 5th placed Bury St Edmunds look very ordinary. The forwards were outstanding, getting the edge at the game’s first scrum and by early in the second half dominating their opposition. Accurate throwing-in by Ben Brooks and later replacement Bradley Ugodulunwa was fully exploited, chiefly by lock Alex Campbell, and scrum half Rhys Morgan coped admirably with the slippery ball to provide a fast, accurate link between his pack and the backs. They played a key role too; with great line speed and aggressive tackling (aided by their mobile back row) they forced Bury’s backs to kick for territory if they were to make any ground, where fullback Matt Gilbert and wings Dan Cheers and Ollie Hutson looked in full control and launched numerous effective counter-attacks.
It didn’t look that good for Dons though two minutes into the match, when they conceded a penalty, Bury kicked for a lineout and drove over for hooker Bixby to score. But for the next 30 minutes play barely left Bury’s half, as Wimbledon launched attack after attack only for a combination of the greasy ball and sterling Bury defence preventing a score. Fly-half James Doe did eventually get them on the scoreboard when the pack forced a penalty on the Bury 22. Then, totally against the run of play, Bury’s back row secured loose ball, shipped it wide and fullback Lord had acres of space to sprint in for a try. No.10 Honey’s conversion made it a hard-to-believe 3-12.
From the re-start Dons’ pack won turnover ball, Morgan launched his backs and Cheers outpaced the defence to reach centre Charlie Esam’s inch-perfect chip and score in the corner. It had been a strange half; Bury creating two try chances and taking both, Wimbledon creating lots but taking one.
But the second half was different altogether. Cheers gathered the re-start, made 30m up the touchline, the pack took it on and tighthead Josh Bayford, who had a huge game, was the forward to touch the ball down, giving Dons a 13-12 lead. Minutes later Dons stole a Bury scrum, took the ball upfield, won a penalty and the ensuing lineout and drove over, only for the referee to award them a 5m scrum. They drove again and no.8 Dan Laventure, who had a storming game, picked up and dived over.
Doe’s fine conversion made it 20-12 and shortly after, in the same spot, it was 27-12 when the forwards earned a well-deserved penalty try.
Entering the last quarter Morgan found a long touch after a run by Laventure. Dons won the lineout and piled over the line for Laventure to score his second. A final effort by Bury took them into Dons’ 22, but the defence held firm and Dons counter-attacked again. Most encouragingly, even with all replacements now on the field, Wimbledon kept their shape and their dominance until the final whistle.
On this form Dons can beat any team in the league. They’ll have a crack at Canterbury next, away this coming Saturday.