Against a team with a powerful pack which many had expected to dominate the match, especially on a pitch which two weeks ago had been flooded, Wimbledon were very much in this game until the final whistle and there was a sigh of relief from many of the home faithful when it came.
The Dons’ cause had not been helped when they lost debutant second row Ed Ashcroft after two minutes to a head injury, prompting a reshuffle of the pack.
Worse was to come five minutes later when, after a catch and drive, Juddians took the lead. Hooker Will Holling touched down for a converted try.
There was a clear change in style from Wimbledon in this game, with kicking far more prevalent than is usually the case, and it often pushed the home team back into their own half.
With Wimbledon’s forwards full of determination and endeavour, they came close to opening their account on 25 minutes when a 20-metre drive from a lineout was stopped just short of the line. Juddians took full advantage, working their way upfield, and after several phases of play full-back Alex Brown touched down for another converted try.
Not content to sit back, Wimbledon had another chance to get on to the scoreboard when after a crossfield kick from Edward Morgan, Thomas Pozniak broke away, only to be hauled down after a 60-metre charge. Half-time came with the home side leading 14-0.
The lead was stretched early in the second period when Jack Nay touched down in the corner, but Wimbledon were far from done, and after a 50:22 kick from Morgan put the Dons into their opponents’ 22, hooker Macauley Casey was driven over by his pack, Morgan converting.
Five minutes later, and after yet more strong work from the pack as they repeatedly attacked the home line, the ball was spun wide to Morgan, who touched down after a show and go flat-footed the defence. The conversion was missed but with 20 minutes to go the Dons had their tails up at 19-12.
From this point, though, the defences of both sides remained strong. There were more chances for the Dons, notably after another 50:22 put them deep into the Judddians’ 22, but they could not break through, and in the latter stages it was the home team who were pressing for their fourth try, only to be pushed back time and again by a great Wimbledon defensive effort, one which ensured that they went away with the losing bonus point.
This weekend is a double header at Barham Road with both the first and second teams playing their Esher counterparts.
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