Rugby: Wimbledon secure promotion to National 2 South East

Wimbledon clinched promotion to National 2 South East with a 50-7 win at Banbury on Saturday.

It took just three minutes for them to open the scoring in their latest Regional 1 South Central fixture. Three phases on from a penalty in Banbury’s 22, full-back Ally Duddell powered over in the corner and stand-off Ed Morgan converted from the touchline.

Six minutes later hooker Jake Farnworth beat the opposition to a loose ball and shipped it out to the prowling flanker Connor Pearce, who was straight in for try number two.

Soon after, Banbury’s first venture into the Dons half produced a penalty try for them and a yellow for Wimbledon flyer Ollie Kitto for a high tackle, and the score was 7-12. From the restart Farnworth won the ball then gathered his own chip through the defence and touched down for try number three.

A lovely break by Ed Morgan in the 25th minute led to centre Paul Hendry rounding Banbury’s last defender to score beneath the posts and Morgan’s conversion took the score to 7-24.

Five minutes later Pearce sent Banbury’s full-back the wrong way to run in his second try after some very neat passing by Duddell and Hendry.

Morgan’s extra two points brought up the 7-31 half-time score. The superiority of the Dons forwards in the set scrum, lineout, and all-round loose play suggested the final scoreline would be a bit more one-sided.

The first 15 minutes of the second half were the home team’s best period of the game with 90 per cent possession, but they were kept try-less by Wimbledon’s watertight defence, the blue scrum caps of Pearce and lock Jake Cleet being particularly evident.

Normal service was then resumed when a 50-metre Kitto sprint left the Banbury defence for dead. His try and Morgan’s conversion extended Wimbledon’s lead to 7-38.

Moments later Kitto’s second try of the day – his 20th of the season – stemmed from a move started by a bulldozing run from flanker Mark Scott – replacing the outstanding Max Freeman – and finished by the winger racing on to a clever nudge through by Morgan, and it was 7-43.

Scrum half Rhys Morgan made a jinking run from his own 22 before passing to his namesake and fellow half-back who shrugged off three tackles to dot down by the posts and then add the extras with five minutes remaining.

Despite the passing of his mother just four days earlier, Wimbledon captain Jack Cooke took to the field against Banbury and more than played his part in this impressive win.

This weekend’s final match of the season at home to Camberley is now meaningless in terms of the battle for promotion, but Wimbledon will most certainly want to avenge their one defeat of the season so it should be very well worth watching.

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