Wimbledon 19 – 12 Hertford
By James Boatman
It was good to see such a strong performance from Wimbledon again after last week’s aberration...Tony Mann reports
London & S.E Division. 8.12.18
Wimbledon 19 – 12 Hertford
It was good to see such a strong performance from Wimbledon again after last week’s aberration, securing a worthy 19-12 win over an almost equally strong Hertford, who’d just notched up five wins on the trot to reach fourth place in the league. Dons’ 10th win of the season takes them four points clear at the top.
This was a really hard-fought match, largely between two excellent defences. The first 25 minutes were played almost entirely in Hertford’s half, thanks mainly to Wimbledon’s set-piece superiority, but the visitor’s defence prevented Dons from crossing their line and limited them to just three well-struck penalties by fullback Freddie Hooper. A storming run early on by new boy Tom Milner led to just one of the many attacks foiled by Hertford.
Then, 30 minutes in, against the run of play, Hertford found a rare gap in Wimbledon’s defensive wall and centre Kingsley raced in to score beneath the posts, enabling no.10 Lloyd to add two points easily and narrow the gap to 9-7.
Wimbledon were also on top for the first quarter of the second half and at last crossed Hertford’s line when scrum-half Aaron Booth, on his Dons debut, took Rob Louw’s quick lineout ball, darted round the front of the line and out-sprinted two defenders to score in the corner. Hooper’s conversion attempt went just wide in the blustery conditions.
Minutes later, at the other end of the field, Hertford won a penalty 5m from Don’s goal line after a yellow card was shown to Wimbledon’s second debutant of the day, no.10 James Moffat, and to the Hertford man who’d nearly taken his head off. Three phases later and Lloyd burst through for Hertford’s second try, his conversion making it worryingly close at 14-12. But the Wimbledon pack were having none of it, and soon extended the lead to 19-12 when Hooper kicked a penalty right into the corner, Louw won the lineout and a fired-up pack drove him over for the try.
But Hertford weren’t out of it yet and gained the ascendancy for most of the final quarter, launching wave after wave of attacks – one completing a full 20 phases – but Wimbledon’s heroic defence held strong, breathing a collective sigh of relief when the ref blew the final whistle.
Next week Wimbledon are at home to Tunbridge Wells whose recent results suggest that they are probably unlikely to concede 52 points to their hosts, as they did when the two teams met early in the season. But we’ll have to wait and see.