Wimbledon travelled to Essex to play the successful Rochford Hundred side on a day with a strong breeze across a firm pitch.
The hosts started with a kick directly to touch which was the first of many kicks that made either catching the ball very hard or the kicker failing to reach the place intended. As this was the same for both sides it made for a match full of uncertainty for the players but excitement for the spectators.
It was also a match of attrition as two well matched packs where one would appear to gain the upper hand only for momentum to swiftly switch to the other side. The Rochford front row found the shorter front row of Wimbledon hard to cope with and a good scrummaging performance from the visitors gained advantages, but the Rochford lineout was very good throughout the match and challenged effectively Wimbledon’s ball on a day both hookers struggled with their throwing in the strong wind.
Wimbledon were set back shortly after the start by Rochford gaining a penalty and kicking to the corner, the following driving maul saw them scoring after nine minutes in the corner with hooker Adam Ferrier but the conversion attempt by no.10 Cameron Greenhall was missed into the strong wind.
Wimbledon needed to regroup and soon won a scrum penalty, there followed a period of hard attrition for both teams with play mainly in the middle third of the pitch, then a period of Wimbledon gaining the upper hand and eventually after 30 minutes a sustained attack by the forwards was held-up over the line. This was the first of two occasions for this to happen. As the half closed a yellow card was awarded against Rochford and despite giving sustained pressure Wimbledon were unable to take advantage, Rochford’s defence was very strong and organised. The half ended with Wimbledon scoreless and Rochford less than one score ahead at 5 – 0.
Wimbledon now were playing with the wind favouring Rochford more although outside half Steve Boatman was successful with a penalty on 45 minutes for a Rochford offside. Rochford’s Greenhall took advantage with long kicks to the right hand corner, periods of play followed with both sides in possession but without scores, it wasn’t until 62 minutes that another long kick gave Rochford a lineout close to Wimbledon’s line and Rochford completed another successful line out drive for a second try by no. 8 Henry Hudson, this time Greenhill’s conversion was kept low but just cleared the crossbar. The gap of 12 – 3 looked too much to close for Wimbledon even with time to play and so it proved at the end.
Next week the league takes a rest and Wimbledon will be away at Guildford on the 15th February with a 2.30pm kick-off.