Wimbledon edge out Sutton & Epsom

Wandsworth Guardian: An eye for goal: Wimbledon's Brian Croke An eye for goal: Wimbledon's Brian Croke

Wimbledon withstood late Sutton & Epsom pressure to win 10-8 in a close London Division One South encounter on Saturday.

This was a full-bloodied encounter as was predicted, with both teams having started the season inconsistently and anxious to improve on recent results.

The outcome was a fair one given Wimbledon’s better scrum and their defence over several minutes of nail-biting pressure close to their own line with just six forwards at the end of the second half.

Sutton for their part made some wrong options on their penalties, not wishing to take probable points when on offer, but opting for less secure lineouts instead.

The match started with Sutton dominating and building pressure near to the Wimbledon line. This resulted in a try on 17 minutes for Sutton’s outside half Chris Hitchcock who missed with his conversion attempt. An expensive miss as it turned out later.

Wimbledon’s pack then produced a driving maul from midfield to the Sutton 22, the ball was lost forward but Sutton had already gone offside in the threequarters and the resulting penalty was in front of the posts. Wimbledon’s Bryan Croke made no mistake and the score after 27 minutes was 5-3.

Around this time, Sutton mounted their best attack and it needed strong tackles to prevent their wing Andy Nichols from scoring.

Wimbledon’s Peter Scott on his wing got into the act and a half yard more space would have probably seen him score.

At the start of the second half, a big driving maul from Wimbledon saw Rich Stewart and Gary Crowe again prominent and when the ball was moved out wide Peter Scott scored the try, this time a curving run from about 40m out and ending round and under the posts. Croke made the conversion and Wimbledon were 10-5 ahead.

In the final quarter of the match, Wimbledon started to disturb the referee leading to two yellow cards and later one for a Sutton player. For about seven minutes Wimbledon played with just six forwards and defended their line with courage and magnificent discipline.

Sutton were able to take one penalty during this time but no more. All the Wimbledon pack played very well with a strong scrum and lineout and some good scavenging for the ball on the ground.  The backs played with confidence and each week are getting to understand each other better when the ball goes out wide.

When restored to a full team Wimbledon were able to drive Sutton downfield but an overlap with a pass to left wing Josh Charles ended with him running out of space and the defence were able to snuff out the attack.  Sutton ended the match near to the Wimbledon line but again were unable to score for all their territory.

Next week Wimbledon's first XV will be at home to Gravesend with a 3pm kick-off.

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