Dons back on top: Stirring second-half fightback as pack dominate

WIMBLEDON 29
DORKING 19

Wimbledon looked as if they were heading for a second successive London & SE Premier League defeat when they trailed 19-5 at the interval.

But a transformed Dons emerged for the second half – the points collected moving them back to the top of the table.

The pack – which had struggled in the first period – began to dominate, the backs started to create chances and the previously flakey defence proved rock solid. Twenty-four unanswered points later and they left the field deserved victors.

The match had begun well too when full-back Phil Chesters raced down the touchline to score in the corner after just two minutes. But it went downhill from there, with poor handling and the simplest of plays going wrong.

Dorking’s first try five minutes in came after a dreadful Wimbledon lineout on their own 22 had gifted the ball to the visitors’ backs, enabling centre Daragh Chambers to score beneath the posts and Ben Hatton converted easily.

With the blustery wind causing Dorking errors too it was a scrappy half, much of it spent in Dons’ territory. It was made worse when two awful kicks into the grateful arms of Dorking’s fired-up backs both resulted directly in tries.

The first was scored by wing Hatton, who then converted, the second by scrum half Kertill. Wimbledon’s pack began to show the form of earlier in the season straight from the restart, providing the platform for the hosts to spend most of the half on the attack.

It was only a matter of time before centre Toby White clinically finished off a good passage of handling. At 10-19 the unlikely suddenly looked very possible. And so it proved, with Dorking pinned in their own half for much of the time and Wimbledon locks Rob Louw and Alex Cambell winning excellent lineout ball.

It was not long before the pack drove over for try number three. Dorking weren’t about to roll over and fought back well, but the Dons’ confident defence kept them at bay during their occasional forward foray.

The Dons’ pack, after no fewer than four collapsed scrums by Dorking, earned a penalty try and a 22-19 lead. That was consolidated with five minutes remaining when the pack rumbled over the line again and centre Freddie Hooper added the finishing touch for two points.

Blackheath v Sale FC at Well Hall (Eltham, London, UK)

The Dons do not play this weekend. Blackheath scored seven tries as they went top of National League One with a 41-24 win over Sale FC at Well Hall. The Club gained the perfect start as Jake Lloyd grounded the first try with less than two minutes played.

Indiscipline allowed the line-out platform for Sale number-eight Ryan Parkinson to drive over in response, but a fine break in midfield from Nick Foster opened up the Cheshire side’s defence and Josh Peters’ flipped pass found Markus Burcham on the short side for the inside-centre to score on his 100th consecutive match as captain. Foster added a try of his own soon after.

Mark Cooke struck a second conversion. The hosts held a 19-7 lead on 23 minutes. Sale cut the lead to just two points before Craig Dowsett crashed over out wide to give Club a 24-17 advantage. Two line-out steals from the outstanding Peters kept the pressure up enough for Freddie Owen to cross from line-out ball on the hour.

Lloyd squeezed over for his second score. Cooke struck the touch-line conversion.

As Foster dummied his way down the left flank, Alex Pickersgill, Burcham and Daly combined for Neale Patrick to dive over, Blackheath have no game this weekend.

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