Saturday 11th December 2021
by Jim Evans
Wimbledon RFC 24 v Dorking RFC 25
For the second week running Dorking faced the 2nd placed team in the last match of the 1st round of matches for season 2021/22 and fittingly the occasion offered everything, and it needed the full 80 mins to separate the two teams.
Both sides faced selection challenges through injuries, suspensions, and the usual round of non-COVID colds and coughs.
Its fair to say Wimbledon started with a bang and dominated the first 10 mins and as always, their decent set of backs threatened and were held up short on a couple of occasions. Dorking managed a foray into the Wimbledon half and Killian narrowly missed a shot a goal and from the 22m Wimbledon regathered the ball and moved it swiftly into the Dorking half where they had their own successful shot at goal 3-0 – 15mins played.
Wimbledon continued to threaten and a penalty kick to corner for the line out allow them to attack the Dorking line again. Whilst the attacking maul was successfully pushed back the ball was moved quickly and a missed tackle in the centres resulted in a converted try under the posts 10-0 and with 20 mins gone Dorking were now definitely chasing the game.
Resilience is a much-improved asset this season for Dorking and, with Darragh replacing the hobbling Fred Dalton, Dorking were able to force the pen to drag themselves back into the game - first with a Killian penalty (10-3) and then with the forwards pushing Wimbledon off the ball at scrum time which allowed a lovely attacking move to put Dan Riches clear up the wing only for him to be taken out with a nasty looking high tackle. Dorking penalty and a yellow card for the Wimbledon defender. Dorking opted for another scrum and continued to put the home team pack under pressure – after a few resets and penalties – the ref finally lost patience and awarded Dorking a penalty try – 10-10 – and half time followed shortly after.
Wimbledon again started the half with a bang and immediately applied the pressure in the Dorking half. A breakthrough in the Dorking defensive line allowed the Wimbledon winger to be put free to score out wide – an excellent conversion took the score to 17-10 after 7 mins of the 2nd half.
Again, the Dorking resilience shone through and they immediately hit back with a good break from Ryan Jeffrey who put the supporting Fraser Mosley in for a Killian converted try 17-17 – 10 mins gone.
Dorking continued to keep the pressure up and forced a new style drop by Wimbledon from their own goal line - Dorking gathered and Jordan Gomez went very close in the corner with a knock-on decision which could have gone either way. Dorking now camped on the Wimbledon half for the next 10 mins and went close a couple of times but in the end only came away with a Killian penalty to take the lead for the first time in the match 17-20 with 25 mins gone.
Immediately things turned for Dorking, Fred Dalton got a yellow card for preventing a quick tap, Jasper ran out of steam due to illness and with Steve Howarth off with a head injury the powerhouse in the scrum disappeared as Tom Bristow also left the field with a later confirmed broken hand. On the plus side it was good to see Rory Mitchell returning to the fray looking in very good shape.
Wimbledon were not going to lie down with the game finally balanced – a good attack into the Dorking half resulted in a penalty and with 38 mins gone they opted for the kick to the corner and an attacking lineout. A well-executed line out saw the home side forward drive over and another difficult conversion was slotted, 24-20 to Wimbledon and the game looked done. Dorking were having none of it, and immediately got themselves into the Wimbledon half – with the pressure on from Dorking, the ball was forced over the line for a goal line drop out by Wimbledon. Agonisingly for the home team the ball was kick straight into touch – and a 5m Dorking scrum was awarded in front of the posts. This was it, the Dorking scrum needed to function despite having two backrows at lock. A quick heal and the ball was moved down the line for winger Jordan Gomez to score out wide – a difficult conversion was missed 24-25 and full time followed shortly after.
What a match – well worthy of the 1st v 2nd billing.
Coach Roux commented
“I'm very pleased with the result away from home today. Our performance in certain areas where below par, but the application and energy we showed for 80 mins was very good.
Wimbledon is a classy side and thought their backs devision gave us a few headaches to start off with, but the Dorking boys adjusted well. I'm very much looking forward to the return fixture in 2022 as we can really show what we can do. Huge amount of credit to the Dorking team who really had to dig deep and keep coming back”
Team: Charlie Connor, Jonny Ellis, Tom Bristow, Steve Howarth, Jasper King, Joel Grant, Fred Dalton (C) Finn Osborne, Henry Smith, George Jackson, Dan Riches, Ryan Jeffrey, Fraser, Mosley, Jordan Gomez, Killian Wilson, James Catton, Daragh Chambers, Rory Mitchell