It was the right result. Hertford were certainly the better team on the day. But the injury-affected Wimbledon team deserve huge credit for their defensive effort limiting a Hertford side who had the vast majority of possession throughout the London & SE Premier League game to just two tries.
Hertford adapted far better to the conditions; Wimbledon found the muddy pitch cramped their normal running style and the ball too greasy to handle, the result being a stream of errors which turned over their limited possession to the opposition.
Probably worst of all was that the Dons lineout – normally such a reliable source of possession – simply didn’t function and when they did win one it was poor ball for scrum-half Owen Davies and he did well to get it away. But of course it was slow ball and Hertford’s good line speed put number 10 Steve Boatman and his back line under severe pressure.
Hertford came out of the blocks fast and waves of attacks kept Dons pinned in their own 22. It took 12 minutes for them to get into Hertford’s half but immediately they gave away possession, the Hertford lock broke through the centre to set off a slick passing movement which ended in a try in the corner for full-back Parkhouse. His conversion went wide, but five minutes later he put over a penalty to make it 0-8.
The remainder of the half was more of the same; With the game being played almost totally in Dons’ half the next Hertford score seemed inevitable. But thanks to an excellent defensive effort, particularly from Boatman and his centres Henry Peuble and Paul Hendry, ably assisted by the back row of Ted Bunn, Jake Rigby and Joey Goldsmith (whose tackle count must have neared three figures), Hertford failed to score again before half time..
The second half was even more of the same. There were some strong runs by Dons’ forwards, especially from flanker Bunn, and a couple by wing Archie Brosch, but the attacks all fizzled out. Inevitably, with their wealth of possession, Hertford scored again – but it took them a full 30 minutes to breach Dons’ defence, this time scored by flanker Johnson.
Still fighting hard with 10 minutes to go Wimbledon at last completed a move after lock Tony Machado made a break on halfway, the backs played like their old selves and a neat little chip through towards the corner by full-back Freddie Hooper was pounced on by number eight Mark Scott and taken over for a consolation try to bring up the final score.
Hertford are a very good side and played really well. But Wimbledon could have done better, and no doubt will away at Westcombe Park next week.
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