Rugby union: Wimbledon 38 Brighton 15 – Dons cope with absent first-teamers to record comfortable win

Wimbledon took the field against Brighton without a good number of their regular first-teamers, but they continued their winning ways regardless, clearly demonstrating their strength in depth this season in the London & SE Premier League.

Once again they opened the scoring within minutes of the kick-off after a break by number 10 Henry Peuble resulted in a Wimbledon penalty which, true to form, they kicked for touch rather than goal and drove over from the lineout, prop Nathaniel Opedo touching down. Fullback Freddie Hooper unaccountably missed the simplest of conversions.

Brighton then spent 10 minutes in the Dons half but were unable to break the defence as centres Joe Brosch and Alex Pickersgill, in particular, tackled anything that moved, as they and all their team-mates did throughout the game. Hooper made amends for his early miss with a long, searching penalty kick to the corner for a five-metre lineout and the forwards did the rest, this time lock Ted Bunn claiming the score.

With flanker Joey Goldsmith making a fine job of throwing-in, the lifters doing just as well for the jumpers and the pack clearly having the edge in the set scrum, it was only a matter of time before they scored try number three, Hooper took a perfectly-timed pass from Pickersgill and galloped 30 metres to the try line. His conversion took the score to 19-0 which, despite several near misses, remained the score at half-time.

The second half opened like the first with Wimbledon mounting waves of attacks, but this time getting turned over by the Brighton back row. The visitor’s possession lasted only seconds when Dons’ wing Ollie Kitto grabbed a clever interception and trotted over for the bonus point try. Ten minutes later Brighton launched their best attack so far, well finished with a try out wide by their speedy wing Maltby.

Wimbledon came straight back from the restart with a great run by wing Archie Brosch and two phases later Peuble was able to dive through a gap to score try number five, Hooper’s conversion extending the lead to 31-5. Pickersgill got the sixth 10 minutes later after a Joe Brosch break and Hooper’s excellent touchline conversion finished Dons’ scoring for the day. But they then lost their shape a little and Brighton took full advantage with a spirited late rally. First they took a leaf out of Wimbledon’s book and drove over from a five-metre lineout. Then their number 10 broke through the middle, spread the ball wide and wingman Maltby ran in his second try and his team’s third.

There was never any doubt though which of the two was the better side, as evidenced by the 38-15 scoreline. Wimbledon travel to old rivals Sutton & Epsom this weekend in search of a similar result. Or even better.



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