Rugby union: Wimbledon move joint top despite pack issues


Wimbledon joined local rivals Sutton & Epsom at the top of the London & SE Premier League table with a try-bonus point 38-22 win over Brentwood.

A below-par performance was due in part to the absence of most of the regular pack which made life tough in the set scrums.

The individual performances made up for the lack of cohesion – flanker Niall MacSweeney excelled at lock alongside captain Alex Campbell while fellow flanker Joe Daley looked anything but a makeshift hooker. Prop James Gillespie also made his presence felt throughout.

The settled back line had no excuse for their constant inaccurate passing and poor handling, but more than compensated for their wasted opportunities by scoring some excellent tries and, along with the forwards, defending well against a lively and determined Brentwood.

Wimbledon barely touched the ball in the opening 10 minutes and Brentwood deservedly went ahead with a pushover try in the corner. The Dons hit straight back as they won turnover ball on the visitor’s 22, scrum-half Campbell Musson went to the blind side and wing Phil Chesters raced in to level the score.

They went ahead soon after through a lovely try by centre Toby White, who outpaced the defence from the halfway line to run in beneath the posts. Freddie Hooper added the two points to make it 12-5.

Another Brentwood pushover try after a soft Wimbledon penalty narrowed the gap ut not for long, as Dons wing Tom Milner bamboozled the entire Brentwood team as he scythed through them to score a superb try. Hooper’s simple conversion made it 19-10.

Regrettably a total mix-up by Dons at the re-start, gave Brentwood flanker James Killington the simplest of converted tries. Wimbledon were perhaps a touch lucky to reach half-time 19-10 ahead given the number of errors and lack of possession.

Fresh legs in the second half seemed to re-invigorate the Wimbledon scrum, in the shape of hooker Jesse Muir and number eight Kane Alboni, making a welcome return after a long injury absence.

From the restart they piled on the pressure, ultimately driving over for Muir to touch down and Hooper to convert.

They should have repeated the exercise soon after, but despite three consecutive five-metre scrum penalties, Brentwood got away with it, and mounted a wave of attacks of their own, deep in Dons’ half.

The defence held and then Dons went into attack mode again as Hooper scored in the corner.

Full-back Ben Hough started another from his own goal line which finished with a nice jinking run from Aaron Booth, on for the injured Musson. Hooper’s conversion took the lead to 36-17, before an unconverted consolation try for Brentwood just before the end.

Wimbledon face Sidcup away on March 23.

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