Wimbledon 8 v East Grinstead 18
National League 3 London & South East
The persistently strong wind was blowing straight down length of the pitch and Wimbledon played with it at their backs for the first half. They had the better of the early exchanges and after 10 minutes were awarded a penalty which was safely slotted by Wimbledon full back and captain, Neil Hallett.
This seemed to motivate East Grinstead to greater efforts and before long a strong attack created an opportunity for the East Grinstead left wing to open up and score out wide after a scorching run down the touchline. Amazingly, kicking into the wind and from out wide, the East Grinstead fly half succeeded with the conversion taking the score to Wimbledon 3 East Grinstead 7.
With both teams now fully engaged, the tempo and intensity increased. Wimbledon infringed in the maul and again the East Grinstead fly half was successful with his kick. Thereafter, Wimbledon managed things well, pinning the visitors in their own half and applying pressure with the reward of 3 penalties on the bounce. Hallett went agonisingly with 2 attempts and the third took the Wimbledon scrum to the 5 metre line for the line out.
However, the hoped for try was not forthcoming. East Grinstead absorbed more pressure with the Wimbledon back row prominent and then went on their own offensive. In what was only their fifth incursion into the Wimbledon half, a classically straightforward but very well executed attack by their three quarters when the ball again ended with the left wing who made no mistake and touched down for his second try of the game, taking the half time score to Wimbledon 3 East Grinstead 15
The story of the second half was that Wimbledon denied East Grinstead any further scoring opportunities and despite some early concerns with our scrum, the pack grew in stature as the match progressed. At the start of the third quarter Dons’ pack out-muscled their opposition to score a well deserved eight-man try, Shawn Renwick getting the all important touch down. The conversion was unsuccessful.
At just ten points down and with 20 minutes remaining it was clear that Wimbledon could take the game. However, it is not for nothing that East Grinstead have the fewest points scored against them of all the teams in the league. Though Dons’ endeavour never faltered, with many heroic efforts to puncture the resilient East Grinstead defence, none more so than from number 8, James Hunt. Within the final 5 minutes, Wimbledon twice came within a whisker of scoring, but it was not to be.
Despite the difficult conditions, both teams played quality, fast flowing rugby with hardly a ball spilled all afternoon. Also, the penalty count was low and there were no yellow cards.
Next week Dons are away to Westcombe Park who are currently placed 3rd in the league and who overcame Eton Manor 63 - 0 in Saturday's game.