ALICE Denton made a heroic return as Abbey Ladies bounced back to winning ways with a bonus-point 33-10 victory at Wimbledon to maintain their grip on Championship South West Two, writes Fiona Tomas.

The centre, who recently re-registered for the Sonning side after a playing stint at Tyrrells 15s outfit Wasps, crossed the whitewash and was clinical in front of the posts.

Further scores from Lou Burgham, Annette Tomas and a penalty try ensured the Nuns maximum points in a comprehensive victory for Jack Reynolds’ side.

The gritty conditions did little to deter Abbey who, after a bright start, flooded forward in attack through forwards Hollie King, Jess Potter, Claire Stevens and Meaghan Fowler, which allowed the backs to test their opposite line.

After scrum half Ellie Rice upped the tempo, it was Burgham who cut a trademark line through Wimbledon’s defence, with Denton adding the extras.

Abbey closed out a dominant first half as Denton and Tomas both crossed, before the latter pinpointed a territory kick in the hosts’ half for the fiery backs to chase, only for Burgham to be pulled back and her side awarded a penalty try.

This Abbey side, who had lost to Newbury at Rose Hill a fortnight ago, was barely recognisable at times – their expansive, free-flowing rugby backed up with a period of staunch defending off their own five-metre line summing up their resilience.

The second half saw the Nuns release Hayley Matthews, Gabriella Millard and full back Nat Bow who all stormed forward as the visitors went in search of a valuable bonus-point.

Inspired by dominant scrummaging spearheaded by Stevens, Abbey’s line speed forced Wimbledon further onto the back foot as Tomas kicked through for the fifth try.

A 33-0 lead allowed Megan Watts and Chloe Sharman to enter the fold as replacement centres – both of whom looked dangerous with Watts providing several big hits as Bow slotted into fly half.

But Wimbledon enjoyed the final word, scoring two tries in quick succession after consistent pressure in the Nuns’ 22 – the only blemish in an otherwise convincing performance ahead of their home fixture with Collompton on Sunday, February 18.