Guildford travelled to Wimbledon on Saturday shorn of a number of regulars due to injury, unavailability and the return of the omnipresent Brown brothers to Australia. In a feisty encounter, Guildford were in touch at the halfway mark, but similarly to the previous weekend’s match against Westcliffe they fell away in the second half, eventually going down 7-38.
The team sheet showed Matt Poole starting in the second row for the second week alongside veteran Rob Mitchell. With skipper Joe Garner unavailable, Courtney Raymond moved to number 8 and Alex Burrill got a rare run out in the 6 shirt. Toby Tyson, who made his first team debut off the bench the previous week, retained his spot and again featured in the second half in the back row. At 17 years, one month and 27 days, Toby is the youngest player to play for Guildford since the Club formed in 2003 after the merger of Guildford & Godalming with Old Guildfordians.
In the backs, Alex Jordan wore the Captain’s armband, Ben King started at 13 and Kirsten Jones started on the other wing after Tom Jeffery withdrew due to injury.
Wimbledon started the game and Guilford were under pressure from the kick off, failing to field the kick and then conceding a penalty which the home side kicked to the corner. Wimbledon drove the lineout and then patiently went through a number of phases, crashing up big runners close to the breakdown. Although Guildford defended well, when Wimbledon switched the play to the short side and put the ball wide Guildford ran out of defenders and Wimbledon crossed for the opening score, 0-5. Guildford fought back but were let down by their handling and discipline at critical moments. The score remained the same until just before half time when Wimbledon had the put in at a scrum on the Guildford 5 yard line. Wimbledon went for the shove and when the scrum splintered, the referee awarded the penalty try making it 0-12 as the teams turned around.
Wimbledon then scored first in the second half to leave Guildford with a 0-19 mountain to climb, but the visitors continued to battle. When Wimbledon cleared their lines from the subsequent restart, Guildford ran the ball back to the half way before sucking defenders in with some short carries from the forwards. When the ball was quickly recycled and put through the hands, Dan Patton hit a strong line from full back and made ground in to the Wimbeldon 22. Guildford retained possession and when Pete Hodgkinson saw the defence flying up, he intelligently chipped the ball wide in a perfectly weighted kick to skipper Jordan who gathered on the full and sped round to touch down for a fine converted try, 7-19. Guildford were unable to follow up this effort and Wimbledon showed their class by closing out the game for a bonus point win to leave Guildford mid-table in a very tight league.
Dave Ward’s squad have a break this weekend before welcoming Brentwood to Broadwater on 2nd March, a game they will target to ensure a positive end to the season.