Dons Snatch Draw with Last Minute Try To Finish Season

Rugby Result: Wimbledon 39 – 39 Tring

Picture: Wimbledon RFC

This was a fitting end to the season for both clubs, each of which has had its ups and downs, caused particularly in Wimbledon’s case, by the huge injury toll, and each of which on the day produced some excellent rugby and 13 tries between them.

The Wimbledon squad, featuring just two players from the team playing away at Tring back in September, welcomed back lock Jack Cooke whose lineout skills in particular, plus the weight and experience of coach Sean Renwick playing at flanker, helped skipper Josh Bayford and his pack to recreate the excellent rolling mauls that proved so effective earlier in the season – and again in this match.

But they got off to a poor start; Tring won the ball from the kick-off, spread it wide fast to wing Stanford who rounded the defence to score in the corner and, in a blustery wind, converted from the touchline. Four minutes later Dons lost their own scrum, then conceded a penalty from which Tring repeated their previous move to put Stanford in for his second, this time missing the conversion.

The next ten minutes though belonged to Wimbledon. A nice break on half way by centre Finn Taylor led to wing Jamie Millais racing in for try number 1, soon followed by one for flanker Tyler Reichardt finishing off a fine drive from a 5m lineout.

A half-asleep Wimbledon then let Tring’s no.8 O’Gorman score their third from a quick tap penalty 5m out, the conversion taking the score to 10-19. But the rest of the half was all Wimbledon. Centre Henry Peuble won the ball from the kick-off and a penalty with it, and from the ensuing 15m lineout the pack drove over, Renwick touching down. Then another Dons lineout win, the ball sent wide to Taylor, inside to wing Josh Charles and he was in for try number four. A minute from half time Renwick got his second after another great drive and fly-half Jake Noble’s conversion made it 27-19 at the break.

Ten minutes into the second half it was Tring’s turn again, that man Stanford running in his third try, soon followed by a flowing backs move from half way finished off by replacement Michie, and Stanford’s conversion put his side into a 27-31 lead.
Entering the final ten minutes they increased it to 27-36, when a neat chip ahead was gathered and touched down by no.10 Criddle, who followed up with a neat drop goal – and it looked all over 27-39 with just seven minutes remaining.

But those minutes were dominated by a Wimbledon side determined to finish the season on a high. After numerous drives by the pack from just metres out Bayford barged over under the posts and replacement Regan Botham added the extras. With the last move of the game the pack again drove over from a 5m lineout to level the scores. The wind took Botham’s conversion attempt just wide and it was honours even for the day.

To finish seventh in a tough league with barely enough fit players to make up a team for much of the season is highly commendable and huge credit must go to captain Josh Bayford and all those who turned out for the 1st XV and of course coach Collin Osborne and his team too.

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April 25, 2022