London & SE Premier League. 22.02.20
Wimbledon 26 – 19 Dorking
This was always going to be a tight game against a Dorking side whose recent run of seven wins has lifted them into fourth place in the league, just one below Wimbledon. In the event it was rather tighter than perhaps it ought to have been. The pattern was set by the first two scrums – one each to both teams – when the Dorking pack was driven back at speed several metres. Dons’ dominance at the set piece continued throughout the half, but it was a full 30 minutes before their wealth of possession was reflected on the scoreboard when the referee had no option but to award Wimbledon a penalty try after several drives were halted by Dorking just short of the line (not always legally).
With no.10 Steve Boatman continually putting the ball deep into Dorking’s 22, Dons had a couple more attempts to drive over from the lineout but the defence by Dorking’s forwards was too well organised, as it was in their back line where Dons could find no way through. Then in the dying minutes of the half Dorking’s backs launched their first real attacks, and Dons had to work hard to keep them out.
Although still winning the battle up front it was Dons who conceded the first try of the second half, when Dorking exploited a hastily re-organised Dons back line following an injury to wing Kieran Morris, and their wing McRae found the space to sprint in from half way.
But the Dons pack came straight back with a great drive from a lineout 20m out and a touchdown by hooker Bradley Ugodulunwa, to make it 12-5. Then they had a taste of their own medicine when they lost possession on their own 22 and after two attempts, Dorking’s lock Alberts was able to finish off a strong drive and power over. Ramsden’s conversion levelled the score.
Suddenly the visitors thought they could sniff an unlikely victory and with Dons losing their shape created a good try in the corner for scrum-half Smith, well converted by Ramsden. Five minutes later Dons equalised with their first good attack by the backs, initiated by a nice break by flanker Kane Alboni, and centre Paul Hendry crossed in the corner, touching down beneath the posts for a simple Boatman conversion.
Wimbledon’s winning score rightly came from their pack, when lock Jack Cooke caught cleanly at a 15m lineout and the entire pack drove the distance to the line for fellow lock Rob Lowe to score. Boatman landed an excellent conversion from out wide in the strong gusty wind.
Dons deserved the win, but will feel the margin should have been greater, as they hope it will be next week when they take on Brighton away.