Welcome to our new season, in National 3 – London and South East. We came third from bottom in N2 which meant a drop of one league. This league is extremely competitive but of course more local with Guildford, Sutton & Epsom being well-known opponents from when we started all those years ago. Also quite a few Essex clubs, so can regurgitate a few jokes when they come to visit!
We have a lot of building to do as several of last year’s players have either retired, returned to the academies of First and second level clubs or moved to clubs at last year’s level 4. Armand Roux is our Director of Rugby and took most of the 1st and 2nd squad to France (Rouen) for a pre-season get-together and concentrated coaching.
At Wimbledon, 15 out of 18 of the 1st team squad had come through the Juniors; and 12 out of 15 of the 2nd team. This is a tremendous achievement and speaks volumes that we are retaining so many players after University.
The game was played with a strong wind at Wimbledon’s backs. Dorking’s pack looked superior in the set pieces asking many questions from Wimbledon’s larger forwards. The game was played more in Dorking’s half than Wimbledon’s but out line looked secure with good defence throughout. Eventually a penalty came Wimbledon’s way which was a simple score 0 – 3. There followed a period of good running from both sides but Dorking’s attacks were snuffed out in mid-field very effectively. A few sages on the touchline wanted the wingers to be given more of a chance to create space as we thought we looked fitter and faster to the break-down. A kick to their defence was followed and in the ensuing loose play, holding up the opposition player was adjudged illegal and we received a Yellow. this opened the door to the large Wimbledon forwards who gained confidence and took the game to us with some impressive forward power and touched down. 0 – 8. Some handling errors (which due to a lack of match practice should be ironed out for the next game), gave possession to them and a kick to our stranded winger resulted in another Yellow when trying to run out of trouble.
Despite having a deficit of players, the half time score looked well within reach if the team could gel better.
As it was, a baffled touchline watched our set pieces – scrums and line-outs – become a source of possession for Wimbledon. Maybe we thought the wind would do the job for us, or maybe Wimbledon concluded that we were not as dangerous as they had feared. Whatever the reasons, our generosity gave their fly half room to control proceedings with chips through our line for their outsides to gather and race through to score identical tries. 0 – 20. An interception looked a likely consolation try for us, but Ed was caught just short; and a couple of penalties were run to make us feel better with a try or two; but Wimbledon’s defence was up to it. A desperate attack near the end resulted in another loss of possession – causing an open try line to a grateful Wimbledon back to leave us 0 – 25 at the whistle.
No doubt there will be a lot of disappointed players with some head-scratching to understand what happened; but we all saw enough to know that the players can do so much better. Hopefully this will happen next week. We have Guildford at home – and would really appreciate good support including coming to our pre-match lunch.
Pictures Courtesy of http://www.benhardistyimages.co.uk/
Matt Noble (c)