Rugby union: Wimbledon lose 22-19 at North Walsham in London & SE Premier

Both teams did well to play some good rugby in the vilest weather on an already soggy pitch, particularly as both like to play an open running game.

The home team had marginally the better of the weather but, more importantly, they adapted better and made the most of the conditions in the first half with the strong wind and driving rain behind them to build a hefty 17-0 half-time lead.

North Walsham kicked well, won several important turnovers and kept possession for much of the half, creating two good tries, the first by Knight following a Walsham interception, the second by Hodgson and a third, also by Hodgson, gifted to them by a poor Wimbledon clearance kick. The first and third were converted by Hodgson.

Wimbledon had their moments too, including a fine break by number eight Mark Scott 10 minutes in and a try looked on until stopped by a deliberate knock-on 15 metres out which earned the offender a yellow card. There was some excellent defence by Dons too against numerous Walsham attacks, particularly by centre Tom Milner.and the whole back line but, finding it difficult to keep hold of the slippery ball, they were unable to break Walsham’s defence.

The second half opened no better for Dons as they conceded a rather soft try by wing Knight directly from their own kick-off.

But gradually they adjusted to the wind and rain behind them, winning more and more possession as the half progressed and after 10 minutes a series of powerful drives by the pack gave wing Archie Brosch just the room he needed to squeeze in at the corner to make it 22-5.

Still finding handling a problem and losing hard-won possession at critical moments, it was a further 25 minutes before their territorial advantage paid off. Excellent scrummaging brought a penalty and from the ensuing lineout the forwards finally drove over for try number two, touched down by lock Tony Machado and converted by scrum half Owen Davies.

With the wind now seemingly at hurricane force, a great break by replacement Jake Rigby promised a third try but ended with a penalty for not releasing.

Still they pressured Walsham and deep in injury time the pack did what they’ve done so often this season and powered over the line for Rigby to score and earn Wimbledon a deserved losing bonus point.

The conversion by Davies was the final score – although many thought that given another five minutes the now dominant Dons pack could well have produced a winning score.

North Walsham’s win saw the leapfrog Wimbledon into second place. Both teams closed the gap on leaders Dorking following their defeat by Sevenoaks.

Wimbledon travel to Tunbridge Wells on Saturday.

 


 

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