Basingstoke 20 v Wimbledon 23
London League 1 South
Match report for December 13
This was a hard-fought win for Wimbledon, illustrating again how tight the league is, with most teams on their day capable of beating almost any other. Certainly, Basingstoke came very close to beating the league leaders on Saturday, courtesy of some most untypically sloppy tackling and handling by Wimbledon.
During the opening quarter the home team had the edge in the set scrum too, making life very tough for Dons’ scrum half Charlie Morgan. The result was that after 20 minutes Basingstoke held a 10-0 lead, courtesy of a penalty by Byatt and a well executed try by wing Woodhouse, which Byatt alsoconverted.
But although the errors still came thick and fast the Wimbledon scrum soon gained parity, and with hooker Dave Roberts finding his lineout target – usually Rob Tait – every time, Wimbledon were right back in the game, and sustained pressure yielded two penalties for captain and centre Neil Hallett to put right between the posts. A try could well have followed too, through a lovely break by wing Josh Charles, but the move was foiled by a deliberate knock-on, earning the perpetrator a yellow card.
Wimbledon made a complete Horlicks of Basingstoke’s second half kick-off, giving the ball to the opposition, regaining possession, then giving it straight back. The home team’s well organised pack set up a maul 10m out and drove over for a simple try, to take their lead to 15-6.
Straightaway Dons took play back deep into Basingstoke’s half, no.8 Gary Crowe powered through the defence and quick re-cycling from the ensuing ruck produced an overlap on the far wing which was spotted by no.10 Bryan Croke who lofted an excellent long pass to wing Rhys Morgan who cantered over to score. Hallett converted from wide out to make it 15-13, soon though to change to 20-13 when Dons turned over possession, missed a tackle on wing Stark who crossed for an easy try.
Another break from Charles and another quick re-cycle brought almost a repeat of Morgan’s earlier try, this time the long miss-pass by Hallett, and even mote room for Morgan to run in his second. Hallett’s conversion tied the score at 20 all.
With 15 minutes remaining the captain kicked another penalty to put his side ahead for the first time in the match, after Basingstoke had infringed in the ruck (and not for the first time). From then on, the Wimbledon pack ground it out, running down the clock to the welcome final whistle, and a good win against tough opposition.
Next week Wimbledon are on the road again, this time the M20 to Dover, always a hard team to meet on their home ground.