The First XV recorded a fifth win of the season on Saturday, beating fellow OWs, Old Wellingtonians, away from home.
The boys went into this fixture full of confidence after the previous weekend's victory over Chipstead, but some of that confidence turned into complacency in a disappointing first half against Wellingtonians.
A slow start allowed the hosts, who were only playing with 14 men, to get on the front foot and dictate much of the opening period.
In fairness, our starting XV was also under-strength, with several players filling in for last-minute absentees in key positions. Losing talismanic centre Rory Southgate to injury in the first five minutes only made that worse, but positional changes were no excuse for the lack of intensity.
And while we did put three early points on the board via the boot of Jason Murphy, we then allowed Wellingtonians too much easy possession and territory, ultimately coming off second-best in many of the opening exchanges.
The one bright spark in the first half was an outstanding try spanning the length of the pitch. A great turn-over inside our 22 was followed by quick hands out wide to winger John Curri, who beat three Wellingtonian defenders and got an excellent offload away to prop Believe Munshine. Munshie, who made an impressive debut against Met Police, raced from well inside his own half to score a dream try for a front-row forward, drawing huge applause from our away supporters on the touch line.
Half-time came with a tense game poised at 10-3 to the visiting Wimbledonians.
Some stern words during the break seemed to do the trick, though, as the boys came out in the second period looking much more focused in both attack and defence. Directed well by half-backs James Howell and James Hutton, we began playing a more dynamic and expansive style which managed to exploit the numerical advantage in wider channels.
After a promising start, including plenty of strong carrying from forwards such as Aidan O’Brien and Angus Fairbairn, fly-half James Hutton was able to make his way over the try line for our second score.
Both teams then each suffered a couple more injury set-backs, making the game more disjointed and stretching Wellingtonians even further.
After another spell of extended pressure inside the home team's half, a third try from in-form full-back Jason Murphy increased our lead to 22-8. This would end up being enough to secure the result come full-time.
It was a scrappy game, but one the squad will learn a lot from. The solidity of our set piece throughout the match, and the much-improved attacking potency shown in the second half, can be taken as two notable positives as well.
Well done to all who fronted up to play in unfamiliar positions, particularly Leon Grozdanovic for putting in a great 80-minute shift at hooker. It was also nice to see two pairs of brothers – Joe and Sam Bell, and James and Jason Murphy – all on the field at the same time once again.
And, of course, an away win is the most important thing in this case, as that result allows us to remain third in the league. The squad will be working hard in training this week to ensure that lacklustre performance was a one-off, and they’ll have the perfect opportunity to make amends this Saturday at home against ninth-placed London Media.
This coming weekend's game will also be the centre-piece for our first Vice-Presidents’ Lunch event since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. We expect a packed house at Coombe Lane, so please come along to support and enjoy the atmosphere. It's set to be a fantastic day at the club, so look out for details of the fixture on our social media channels.
We hope to see you there!
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