Wimbledon 37 v Brighton 33
London League 1 South
Match report for December 6
It was a great fightback by Brighton to come from 22-7 down at half time to within four points of Wimbledon’s winning score, although Dons’ bench was decidedly aggrieved at some of the decisions that helped them get so close. Regardless, the win and the four try bonus point keeps Wimbledon at the top of the league, thanks to a return to form by the pack after the shambles at Sutton & Epsom. This week they produced plenty of ball for their talented backline and some lovely tries resulted.
Lock Campbell Tait got the opener, courtesy of an unselfish pass by fullback James McCann after a scintillating run from wing Josh Charles. McCann himself strolled over for the second after a flowing backs move set up by a typical Bryan Croke break. Brighton responded rapidly with a good try by centre Joel Forward after a very neat chip by the scrum half following a 5m lineout. Alex Finch converted.
Having converted both Wimbledon tries, captain Neil Hallett added a further three points with a well-struck penalty kick, then two more by converting try number three….a penalty try produced by a huge Wimbledon scrum following pressure on Brighton;s half backs on half way and a determined hack on and chase by half a dozen Wimbledon players.
The second half opened brightly for Dons too when scrum half Rhys Morgan fully justified his selection on the wing by rounding off another classic back line move with a text book try. Hallett’s conversion took them to what looked like an unassailable 31-7 lead. A revitalised Brighton suddenly turned on the pressure though, denying Wimbledon possession and mounting a series of attacks, held out for ten minutes by Don’s aggressive rush defence spearheaded by Hallett. But with first, flanker Chris Lewis, then lock Gary Crowe both in the sin-bin, Brighton were quick to capitalise and ran in two well-worked tries by Finch and Morris, each converting their own try, which brought the score to 31-21, with just over ten minutes remaining.
Back at full strength Wimbledon came so close to scoring through Charlie Morgan, McCann and Charles, but all were held up by good Brighton defence just a metre out. Then Hallett put the game beyond the visitors with two fine penalty kicks giving his side a sixteen point lead.
But Brighton hadn’t quite finished; an unlucky bounce (for Wimbledon) into Dons’ goal area was pounced on for a try by Forward, making it 37-26. Then they got their losing bonus point in the game’s final minute when Morris sprinted in for his second try (after what even Brighton supporters agreed was a forward pass) which he duly converted.
It was an exciting match to watch with, ultimately, a fair result. Dons will need to be equally competitive next week when they travel away to Basingstoke.