Basingstoke RFC 20-23 Wimbledon RFC
Wimbledon RFC coach James Ogilivie-Bull praised Neil Hallett’s kicking game as his 13 points helped them overcome a resilient Basingstoke at Down Grange on Saturday.
In what turned out to be a tale of two halves, Neil Hallett’s late penalty was the difference between the two sides, his accuracy from the set pieces adding to two tries from Rhys Morgan.
The home side were looking like unlikely victors for most of the game though, with Matt Woodhouse, Ryan Davis and Callum Smith all crossing over and Dave Byett added five points from the boot.
“Having someone like Neil in the team, who you know that if there’s a penalty given anywhere within the opposition half more than likely he is going to kick those points over, it’s really a big asset we have there – a big weapon,” said Ogilivie-Bull.
The Wimbledon coach stressed that it was a great overall performance from his side with a number of outstanding performances all over the park.
“Neil obviously deserves the plaudits for kicking the points and giving the passes for the tries to Rhys Morgan but it was a good team performance.
“No-one panicked when we went 10-0 down. The boys just stuck to the game plan and just knew that if we kept on the way we were going that we would get the rewards.
“The forwards in the scrum were outstanding and the backs finished the moves off well when we got the chances.
“Josh Charles did well on the wing. He always beat his first defender and was very solid, he is always going to make yards for us.
“Shawn Renwick in the second row had one of the best games we’ve seen him play so far and really led the forwards as well.
“Pete Wallace, our loose head, had an outstanding game and was named man of the match by the Basingstoke supporters so it shows how good a game he had for the opposition to name him man of the match.”
It was a slow start from the visitors, who did not even get on the scoreboard until the half hour mark, but Ogilivie-Bull thinks the best team won in the end.
“I think we started off a bit slowly but we grew in confidence as the game went on and cleared up the mistakes we made,” he added.
“We got used to the way the referee was refereeing the rucks and played accordingly to him and putting together our phases and the way we play the game.
“We started getting back into through a few penalties from them and the scoreboard started ticking over for us.”
Basingstoke took the lead in the match after a quiet opening ten minutes through a Byett penalty from 25 meters out.
The home side increased their lead after 20 minutes, when a great team move resulted in Jobi Kochanowski releasing Woodhouse to run down the left wing and touch down under the posts to make it 10-0.
Wimbledon finally got on the scoreboard on the half hour mark when Hallett scored two penalties in the space of four minutes, the second a great kick from 38m out, to close the deficit to four points at half time.
The second half started at a frenetic pace, as Davis crossed over two minutes after the restart following a great kick from Callum Staff but Byett could only watch as his conversion crashed back off the post.
Again, it did not take Wimbledon long to get back into the game as Morgan went in under the posts for an easy Hallett conversion to make it 15-13.
Byett again spared Wimbledon when he missed another conversion after Staff went from provider to finishing off a neat move by the Basingstoke backs to increase the lead to seven.
Wimbledon finally drew level on the hour mark when Morgan rewarded a fine Josh Charles run to cross over wide on the right, Hallett again converting to make it 20-20 on the scoreboard.
Hallett attempted to seal what had earlier appeared to be an unlikely victory for the visitors with a penalty from 40m out, but for once his accuracy evaded him.
However, he only had to wait four minutes for another chance, this time from half the distance, to give Wimbledon the lead for the first time in the match and they stood firm in the face of a late Basingstoke push to eke out a narrow victory.
Indeed, considering his side almost slipped to two consecutive away defeats, Ogilivie-Bull is quietly confident that his side will put to bed any away day blues and see off the challenge of Dover next week.
“Ideally, we want to go down there and get a win. Dover at home or away, it’s a different animal and they’ll play to their strengths,” he said.
“The pitch in December isn’t going to be as green and firm as we’d like so we know the task ahead of us.
“If we stick to our game plan and weather the storm they’re going to throw at us I have no doubt that we’ll come away with the victory again.”
Picture courtesy of Giacomo Bettiol, with thanks