Wimbledon defeated but still stand a chance of progressing in Community Championship

Wimbledon lost 46-29 to Syston in the Community Championship last weekend, writes Tony Mann.

The Dons had to take to the field with 10 changes to their side that had notched up 22 consecutive wins, the personnel overhaul largely down to the fact the match took place on Easter Saturday.

Brought together at the last minute, the Dons simply could not compete with a very well-drilled and determined Syston team.

The sight of Wimbledon’s scrum being shoved back rapidly was one not seen throughout this season and the result was that the visitors had probably 80 per cent possession. Wimbledon’s possession came from their lineout and a couple of rare errors by Syston.

The Dons never gave up the fight and a sterling effort in the last quarter brought them from 36-10 down to 29-39 with 10 minutes remaining.

But Wimbledon handed possession back to the visitors and the referee sinbinned number eight Mark Scott and prop Abu Abdul, awarding a penalty try to clinch victory for Syston.

Wimbledon got off to a flying start straight from the kick-off with a driving maul ending with a touchdown by Scott.

But for the next 30 minutes they barely touched the ball and when they did their lack of familiarity with their fellow players resulted in misplaced passes, knock-ons and wrong options.

After conceding three tries, one converted, Dons narrowed the gap to 17-10 with a good lineout win and the familiar drive for the line to score try number two.

Immediately after though, a neat chip through put Syston’s flanker in for their fourth.

Normal service for Syston resumed at the start of the second half, as the kick-off was knocked on by the Dons. From the ensuing scrum another nice chip through their defence saw Syston’s centre run in unopposed for their fifth try, this one converted.

Constant pressure close to the Dons’ line just minutes later brought them a sixth try and another two points to make it 36-10.

Then came Wimbledon’s fightback as two more tries were created from a lineout, the first driven over and the second touched down by full-back Olly Thomas and converted by replacement stand-off Regan Botham.

Centre Harry Jinks neatly gathered a loose ball and sprinted in to score beneath the posts making Botham’s conversion a formality. Syston looked nervous, until the penalty try made it game over.

There is a possibility of one or even two more games for Wimbledon. If Syston lose to Bridgnorth next week then the Dons – top of Regional 1 Championship Pool 3 – will go through to the semi-final of this very strangely organised and, to many, meaningless championship.

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