Disappointment as Wimbledon's Unbeaten Run Comes To an End

Rugby Result: Sutton & Epsom 17 – 12 Wimbledon

Alex Pickersgill's early try was a false dawn. Picture: Wimbledon RFC

It was inevitable that Wimbledon’s fine run of good performances would stall some time – it was just a pity that it would be against old rivals Sutton & Epsom, languishing in the lower part of the league. It was also disappointing that, in the eyes of the admittedly less than impartial observer, Wimbledon often came out on the wrong side of refereeing decisions. That said, Sutton made far fewer mistakes than Wimbledon and took their chances when on offer.

The match couldn’t have started better for Wimbledon though when a Sutton fumble from Dons’ kick-off was snapped up by no.8 Mark Scott, shipped to skipper Josh Bayford, then to wing Josh Charles and on to centre Alex Pickersgill who rounded the defence to score before a minute had elapsed. Not unlike last week fullback Freddie Hooper’s first kick went wide of the posts.

Then it all started to go wrong for Wimbledon; instead of the normal running open rugby that has brought such success this season, it all got a bit frenetic and error strewn and, despite Sutton’s pack being put under immense pressure in the set scrum, they took advantage of their visitor’s error count and began to control territory and possession, aided by the frequent penalties awarded to them at the rucks and mauls.

After half an hour Sutton equalised through a well-taken try by wing Cooksammy, fullback Hurley adding the extras with a fine conversion from touch. Minutes later he added a further three points with an equally good penalty conversion.

Wimbledon might well have scored from the re-start but for a deliberate knock-on, deemed worthy only of a penalty rather than a card and then, when camped beneath Sutton’s posts they were inexplicably penalised again and Sutton survived.

The opening period of the second half was more of the same until James Moffat, just two minutes after replacing Hooper, nipped through a gap to score for Dons after a series of powerful drives from his pack, and his conversion from the touchline put Dons 10-12 ahead. Playing better now, Wimbledon created numerous good chances but Sutton’s defence foiled each of them. And then they stole an interception from a sloppy Wimbledon pass in their own 22, raced upfield and put Cooksammy again into the corner, Once more Hurley converted from touch and it was 17-12.

With two minutes remaining Wimbledon looked about to snatch a victory with two consecutive scrums beneath Sutton’s posts; in any other game they would have scored from one of them, but not in this game.

The losing bonus point will be of little consolation to Wimbledon who will go into next week’s home game against Sevenoaks determined to put things right.

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November 8, 2021