Alton Rugby Football Club

A Close Encounter

Sat 01 Apr 2017, 15:00


10 - 17



Alton played Alresford in the corresponding home fixture back in December when they lost narrowly 12 - 15. Last Saturday's match was also a hard-fought close encounter with the result in doubt until the final whistle.

At kick-off time Alresford were first in Snows Hampshire 2 while Alton lay third behind Overton. A period of extremely heavy rain preceded the start but Alresford's pitches, which are only a couple of years old, drain exceptionally well.  Alton took full advantage of the excellent surface and attacked the home defence straight from the kick-off.  They were rewarded when, to stop the onslaught, an Alresford player was deemed to have "lifted above the horizontal" in a tackle.  Stand-off Joe Gwyther took the opportunity to give Alton a very early lead from the resultant penalty. Six minutes later Alton moved the score on when following a good carry by wing, Ed Lowman, Alresford were again penalised. Gwyther, from 30 metres out, lifted the score to 0 - 6. Alton's tails were now up and confidence was growing: collecting the ball from the kick-off it was recycled several times until an opening appeared and second-row, Ryan Beal, scampered over from some 40 metres out. Regrettably the conversion was missed. With only ten minutes gone, Alton were 0 - 11 against the league leaders! However, Alresford showed why they are the league leaders and pinned Alton back in their own half.  Alton began to draw the referee's displeasure with several repeated offences. Consequently his patience was exhausted and Luke Parratt was soon dispatched to the sin-bin, with Adam Hoxey joined him three minutes later.  To the great credit of the remaining Alton men on the pitch they only conceeed one penalty throughout the thirteen minutes with less than their full compliment on the field. After absorbing a great deal of pressure and re-gaining the two miscreants, Alton again broke out. A subtle kick from Gwyther forced a handling error which gifted them a lineout.  During the resultant drive, Alresford were penalised for pulling down which Gwyther converted re-establishing Alton's eleven point margin; 3 - 14. At the following kick-off, Alresford were again penalised, this time for taking a player out in the air. Gwyther kicked to the 22-metre line, with Alton winning the lineout. The hone team were pinged again at the resultant maul for not moving away, with Gwyther taking advantage of the points offer and taking the half time score to 3 - 17.

The second half went much the way of the first, hotly contended, frequent mistakes and more penalties.  Seven minutes into the half saw the home side on their visitors 22 with a throw in to a lineout.  They moved the ball to the centre of the field and a ruck formed in front of Alton's posts, Gwyther incurred the referee's displeasure when he drove straight through it and was awarded a yellow card, Alresford were awarded a penalty try taking the score to 10 - 17. The game swung from end to end but neither team could find a way through the defences. The last ten minutes or so were played out in Alton's 22 but their defensive work and commitment denied the home side. Eventually with eighty minutes played, the visitors were awarded a scrum which they won and the ball was booted into touch. Final score 10 - 17.

Referee - Wayne Morris (HRURS)

This may not have been a classic game of free-flowing rugby but considering the conditions it was a hard fought and equal battle.  Alton were rewarded with their best win of the season and Alresford did, at least, earn a losing bonus point.

This result leaves Alton still five league points behind Alresford, who have a much better points difference, so they cannot be overtaken by Alton.  All three sides in contention have won the same number of games (12 out of 15) the current league positions being determined on bonus points; Alresford 13; Overton 10; and Alton 8. There is a possibility that Alton could gain promotion but they must win their last league match and Overton, currently in second place, must at least draw.  The last league fixtures are to be played next Saturday 8th April, when Alton host Aldershot & Fleet; kick-off is 3:00 p.m.

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