The Old Wimbledonians First XV suffered a second consecutive defeat on Saturday, just falling short in a scrappy affair away to Worth Old Boys. The weather was miserable, the conditions were messy, and the game was played in a way that suggested both Surrey 2 teams were perhaps still slightly distracted by England’s heroics in the Rugby World Cup semi-final earlier that morning.
The Home Side Starts on the Front Foot
The OWs received the first kick off of the match and failed to secure a clean exit from their own 22. A Worth scrum in dangerous territory soon followed, and a sweeping backs move allowed the home side’s full-back – who would prove to be a handful all day – to brush past some weak defence and score in the corner. A missed conversion meant the OWs were trailing 5-0 after just a few minutes.
The weather played its part early on as both teams spilled the ball a bit too easily, and kicking out of hand was proving challenging for the OWs. When they were able to hold on to possession, though, lock Sam Bell and back-rowers Tom Queen and Hamish Gibb were all willing ball carriers. Centre Richard Hutton and our own full-back Joe Walsh were also on hand to make some incisive runs which caused Worth problems.
However, more loose kicking and a disjointed chase soon resulted in another try for the Worth number 15 as he gathered a long punt upfield under very little pressure, broke several tackles, then chipped over the last defender to score again. This time the conversion was good, bringing the score up to 12-0.
The OWs composed themselves after that early scare, and realised that in such poor conditions their best strategy was to keep things tight. This change of approach quickly payed dividends, too, allowing them to advance up the field by utilising their scrum, line-out, maul, and short running game to apply pressure to great effect.
The standout player in this period was Captain Aidan O’Brien, who put in yet another fantastic performance and was rewarded with yet another first-half try from close range. Fly-half Rhys Davies converted from in front of the posts to bring the OWs within 5 points at the break.
The OWs Fail to Turn Pressure into Points
Our First XV continued their ascendancy heading into the second half, with plenty of possession inside the home team’s territory thanks to much-improved tactical kicking from Davies and his half-back partner Richard Travers. It must be said, though, that Worth Old Boys defended very well and kept the visitors from converting any of this pressure into points.
Despite the OW pack remaining superior at the set piece, with props Rory Forward and Jordan Hawthorne both getting the better of their opposite men, Worth Old Boys offered too much to contain in broken play. Eventually, thanks to some clever running lines and more missed tackles from the OWs, Worth were able to slide over for a third try. Bizarrely, despite lining the conversion up right underneath the sticks, the home fly-half found his kick charged down by a fantastic chasing effort from Walsh, leaving the score at 17-7.
The closing period of the game was all-out OWs attack, with a late assault on the Worth try line in an attempt to salvage some points from the contest. More strong carries coming through O’Brien, Davies, Queen, and Hutton kept the home side moving backwards. This brought a number of penalties inside the danger zone, but the OWs decided to keep their foot on the gas rather than opting to take a penalty that could’ve put them in losing bonus point range.
Unfortunately, Worth Old Boys were able to absorbed the pressure again until the OWs eventually fell victim to the slippery ball, coughing up possession. Despite fighting until the very last whistle, the Old Wimbledonians found themselves succumbing to a disappointing 17-7 loss.
Plenty of Room for Improvement at Training
Despite having a break from league action this coming Saturday thanks to the Rugby World Cup Final, training will still take place this Tuesday and Thursday at the usual time of 7pm at the club house in Raynes Park.
Two consecutive losses means that all First XV players are expected to attend, and the squad as a whole will need to improve its efforts on the training pitch to ensure the next league fixture ends with a victory.
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