Wimbledon 7 v Westcombe Park 9
National League 3 South
Whilst this was an excellent (if not spectacular) close encounter between two of the best four teams in the league, Wimbledon had every right to feel aggrieved at the big penalty count against them in the tackle area and ensuing mauls where, particularly in the second half, they seemed not to be able to do anything in accordance with the referee’s interpretations of the laws. However, in truth, Dons could still have won had they not spilled so many passes after they’d done all the hard work and with the try-line beckoning.
But they didn’t get off to the best of starts, conceding three points to the boot of Park’s James Cameron direct from the kick-off, apparently for not releasing after the tackle – and hands in the ruck cost them another three ten minutes later. For the next 15 minutes most of the play was in the middle third of the pitch (as was the bulk of the match), but then Dons’ no.10 Bryan Croke shimmied his way from his 10m line to within 2m of Park’s goal line. What possessed a Park supporter to run on and join the ruck that formed is a mystery, but it cost him banishment from the touchline and his team a penalty, from which wing Dave Bennett took Croke’s pass at speed and at a good angle to score beneath the posts. Croke’s conversion gave Wimbledon a 7-6 lead, but only for 10 minutes when Cameron punished them for wheeling the scrum with another three points.
The second half was more of the same – with first one team, then the other, threatening to score. But neither could break the other’s defence and the frustration on the faces of Dons’ players, as the whistle brought the game to an end, showed just how much they rued the poor handling, not mention some of those decisions. A losing penalty point was of little consolation, particularly as the result saw Park leapfrog Dons into third place, a single point ahead.
Next week Wimbledon visit Guildford where they will expect to revert to their match-winning ways.