Wimbledon 21 – 22 CS Stags
By James Boatman
The visitors, CS Stags, had only won one game before Saturday’s match against a Wimbledon team with four bonus point wins behind them. And Dons were probably a bit complacent...Tony Mann reports
London & SE Premier League. 29.9.18
Wimbledon 21 – 22 CS Stags
The visitors, CS Stags, had only won one game before Saturday’s match against a Wimbledon team with four bonus point wins behind them. And Dons were probably a bit complacent. Certainly Stags looked more up for the game than Dons did and played the better rugby for much of it.
Whilst Wimbledon’s pack was rightly a bit miffed at the referee’s refusal to yellow card any of Stags’ forwards for consistently collapsing the set-scrum as Dons’ bulldozed them backwards, but the scrum apart, Wimbledon’s line speed was poor, their lineout worse and their turnover ball non-existent.
On a glorious spring-like day, Stags launched a fast and furious onslaught from the kick-off and after multiple phases went over for a converted try.*
And it was a full ten minutes later before Wimbledon got their hands on the ball, but sloppy work at a ruck soon snuffed out a promising attack. Twenty minutes later, after repelling several Stags attacks, a succession of Wimbledon scrums in the opposition 22 finally produced a fine drive from which flanker Kane Alboni was able to touch down. Centre Freddie Hooper’s conversion levelled the score/.
But with Stags proving masters of the re-starts (their own and Wimbledon’s) a further wave of attacks ended with a second try for the visitors, scored by their wing in the corner. Then Dons hit back with a powerful drive to near Stags’ line, where scrum half Campbell Musson nipped through a tiny gap to score beneath the posts, Hooper’s conversion putting Dons 14-12 ahead.
From the re-start Stags once again piled on the pressure, eventually outwitting Dons’ defence to score another converted try and, despite Dons’ dominance in the set scrum the half finished with them 12-19 down.
The opening of the second half saw more of the same, with Stags’ keeping possession and their backs posing a real threat, kept at bay only by some desperate Dons defence - but an iffy penalty gave the visitors another 3 points and they went 2 scores clear. They continued to look the more likely to score until well into the final quarter, when flanker Jack Flanagan drove over their try line following a series of scrums collapsed by Stags (but still no card). Hooper’s conversion took Wimbledon to 21-22, at which point they at last assumed a air of real urgency and better cohesion, but it was too little, too late and Stags were able to claim a worthy victory.
Hopefully this defeat will serve as a wake-up call for Dons next Saturday when they travel to the new undefeated league leaders, Westcliff.
* No Stags’ player’s names were provided.