This was a good return to winning ways for Wimbledon after their disappointing run of three defeats and the five point try bonus keeps them safe in fifth place in the London & SE Premier League.
It was just a shame that two clear try chances begged for otherwise the margin would have been 50-plus.
That said, CS Stags was no pushover and kept Dons working hard for every point for the full 80 minutes, so much so that it took Wimbledon a quarter of the game to make their opening attempt, when a combination of center Finn Taylor and wing Tom Milner put Owen Davies under the posts, easily converted by the scrum-half.
With their scrum leading the way and the lineout trio of locks Ted Bunn and Tom Edwards, plus flanker Grant Paterson making a strong impression on his debut, all responding well to hooker Tyler Reichardt’s accurate throw-in, further scores looked like hands. But it took a full 10 minutes for a nice break from Davies to take the game one meter further and from the ruck Edwards landed for try number two and the second scrum half conversion gave Dons a 14-0 lead.
Just before half time, wing Ollie Kitto – who was making a welcome return from injury – took a well-timed pass from fullback Freddie Hooper to escape his opponent’s attention and duck into the corner.
In the second half, Wimbledon’s set scrum took full control, aided by a return after a month’s absence by skipper Josh Bayford, who came on as injury substitute.
But a rare turnover by Stags provided their best offense of the game and only a strong defense by Wimbledon kept them out. Again it was 20 minutes until the next try – Hooper broke through on the halfway line, took the ball 20 yards up the field before sending it into the center of Alex Pickersgill, who outsmarted two defenders to put himself a clear corner into the corner. give and Davies shot an excellent conversion, making it 26-0.
Wimbledon camped deep into Stags’ 22 for the next 10 minutes and only constant fouls kept them at bay until the referee finally had no choice but to award a penalty try.
Dons’ control of the set scrum was wiped out by the introduction of undisputed scrums, thanks to an injury to Stags’ tighthead prop. This hampered Dons’ fluid attacking play, but then, five minutes from time, Henry Peuble shot through an opening and missed both centres, threw a 20-yard pass into Hooper’s arms at pace, and with no defender in sight sprinted in to to score in the center, from which, fittingly, Davies added up the final score.
Hopefully the injuries to Jake Rigby, Tom Milner and Grant Paterson won’t keep them out for long as they each made significant contributions.
This weekend’s game against Havant requires a strong team sheet.