The defeat put an end to a five-match winning streak for the Hoe Lane outfit, with their opponents stretching the lead at the top of London and South East Premier to four points.
“It was a game that could have gone either way,” admitted Hertford head coach Kanwaijit Basra. “But they were better and deserved the win.
“We struggled at our set-pieces for probably the first time this season, and our lineout wasn’t good.
“We also gave away too many penalties, they scored nine points with boot in the first half and that’s something we’ve got to look at.
“We came back at them strongly in the second half and were stopped just short of the whitewash on a couple of occasions.
“We acquitted ourselves well and put up a good performance.”
In a hard-fought match, largely between two solid defences, the first 25 minutes were played almost entirely in Hertford’s half, thanks mainly to Wimbledon’s set-piece superiority.
Hertford’s defence prevented Dons from crossing their line and limited them to just three penalties from full-back Freddie Hooper.
Finally, just after the half hour mark, Hertford found a rare gap in Wimbledon’s defensive wall and centre James Kinsley raced in to score beneath the posts, setting up an easy conversion for Ben Lloyd to narrow the gap to 9-7.
After the break, Wimbledon kept piling on the pressure in the first part of the second half and finally crossed the whitewash when scrum-half Aaron Boothtook Rob Louw’s quick lineout ball, darted round the front of the line and outsprinted two defenders to score in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Minutes later, at the other end of the field, Hertford won a penalty five metres from Wimbledon’s goalline after yellow cards were shown to both number ten James Moffat and Kinsley.
Three phases later Lloyd burst through for Hertford’s second try, cutting the deficit to 14-12.
However, the hosts soon extended the lead to 19-12 when Hooper kicked a penalty right into the corner, Louw won the lineout and the pack drove him over for the try.
Hertford weren’t out of it yet, and were on top for the remainder of the game, launching wave after wave of attacks – one completing a full 20 phases – but Wimbledon’s defence held strong, breathing a collective sigh of relief when the referee blew the final whistle.
This Saturday Hertford travel to bottom of the table Shelford.
“We need to get five points from that game. we’re only seven points off second placed Epsom, and Westcliff (who are third) lost to Chingford.
“We’ve got Westcliff to play after Christmas so we’re still very much in the mix.”
Skipper Josh Corcoran, who missed the Wimbledon game with an ear infection, is doubtful for the Shelford match.
Updated 09:36 - 16 Dec 2018 by Mick Faires