Rugby union: Wimbledon’s unbeaten run comes to an end as they lose 17-12 at Sutton & Epsom

It was inevitable that Wimbledon’s fine run of good performances in the London and SE Premier League would stall at some point – it was just a pity that it would be against old rivals Sutton & Epsom, languishing in the lower part of the table.

It was also disappointing that Wimbledon often came out on the wrong side of refereeing decisions. That said, Sutton made far fewer mistakes than Wimbledon and took their chances when on offer.

The match couldn’t have started better for Wimbledon though when a Sutton fumble from Dons’ kick-off was snapped up by number eight Mark Scott, shipped to skipper Josh Bayford, then to wing Josh Charles and on to centre Alex Pickersgill, who rounded the defence to score before a minute had elapsed. Not unlike last week full-back Freddie Hooper’s first kick went wide of the posts.

Then it all started to go wrong for Wimbledon. Instead of the normal running open rugby that has brought such success this season, it all got a bit frenetic and error strewn. Despite Sutton’s pack being put under immense pressure in the set scrum, they took advantage of their visitor’s error count and began to control territory and possession, aided by the frequent penalties awarded to them at the rucks and mauls.

After half an hour Sutton equalised through a well-taken try by wing Stefan Cooksammy, full-back Matt Hurley adding the extras with a fine conversion from touch. Minutes later he added a further three points with an equally good penalty conversion.

Wimbledon might well have scored from the restart but for a deliberate knock-on, deemed worthy only of a penalty rather than a card and then, when camped beneath Sutton’s posts they were inexplicably penalised again and Sutton survived.

The opening period of the second half was more of the same until James Moffat, just two minutes after replacing Hooper, nipped through a gap to score for Dons after a series of powerful drives from his pack, and his conversion from the touchline put Dons 12-10 ahead. Playing better now, Wimbledon created numerous good chances but Sutton’s defence foiled each of them. And then they stole an interception from a sloppy Wimbledon pass in their own 22, raced upfield and put Cooksammy again into the corner. Once more Hurley converted from touch and it was 17-12.

With two minutes remaining Wimbledon looked about to snatch a victory with two consecutive scrums beneath Sutton’s posts. In any other game they would have scored from one of them, but not in this game.

The losing bonus point will be of little consolation to Wimbledon, knocked off top spot by Dorking. The Dons are at home to Sevenoaks this weekend.

 


 

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