Alton Rugby Football Club

Alton Joy After Last Minute Drama

Sat 17 Oct 2009, 15:00


7 - 10


Alternate text

Alton remain top of Hampshire One after a last-minute penalty try gives them victory at Eastleigh.

If the game was rather drab, the conclusion to it was anything but. Having spent seven-eighths of the match battering the living daylights out of each of other to little effect, Alton and Eastleigh contrived to produce a heart-stopping finale that almost reduced many of the large crowd at The Hub to tears.

When Eastleigh scored the game's opening try just nine minutes from the end, they led 7-3 and seemed certain for victory, but Alton hit back and it was a penalty try which eventually decided it, much to relief of the visitors and the utter dismay of the home supporters.

And so it was Alton who won the battle of the 100 per cent records and they remain top of Hampshire One, with Petersfield hard on their heels.

The drama at the end of the match was rather at odds with the scruffy 71 minutes that preceded it. Predictably, given the importance of the game to both sides, the rugby on offer was more brown ale than champagne but a win is a win, and Alton owe the skin of their teeth a favour or two. Or, to be precise, they owe their impressive forwards a debt of thanks for a huge effort in the dying moments.

Overall, Alton lacked colour and struggled for continuity, especially in the backs. Admittedly, their cause was badly undermined by the late withdrawal of midfield lynchpin Gareth Richards and the loss of fellow centre Richard Hemmens to a second-minute injury but, the final 15 minutes aside, they were uninspired.

But their defence was outstanding and the very fact that they stole the game so late in the day suggests that there is real steel in Jimmy Gay's improving side. Lock Will Ford was outstanding and the second-half introduction of Stephen Osborne was a massive fillip, giving Alton much-needed energy and bulk.

On the other hand, Eastleigh were inventive, well-organised and are blessed with a big, mobile pack, but for all their domination of possession and territory, Kieran Collins' sweetly-struck 33rd-minute touchline penalty was the solitary first-half score.

Eastleigh created chances and should have led, but the failure to take advantage of any them in that opening period ultimately cost them the game.

Alton did appear to have scored the game's opening try shortly after half-time when Ford touched down on his own kick-through, only to have his effort curiously ruled out for a foot in touch - curious for the fact that Ford was never in possession of the ball.  

Tim Liston missed a penalty for Eastleigh but they continued to look the likelier side, and only a lack of precision and some resolute Alton defending held them at bay.

However, the try did eventually come about and a strange affair it was too. The referee and a number of players appeared momentarily to be distracted by some off-the-ball shenanigans from a rolling mail but in the meantime, Eastleigh back-row duo Paul Taylor and Paul Fudio peeled away and Fudio crashed over. The try was awarded, Liston slotted the extras and suddenly Alton, under the cosh for the bulk of the afternoon, needed a try in the final ten minutes to rescue the game.

And it all came down to those final, helter skelter moments. Lei Alexander's cross-kick was chased down by Winston Carter and Shane Watts, the latter forcing Eastleigh to concede a five-metre scrum and offer Alton a visit to the last-chance saloon.

As the seconds ticked away, Alton got the nudge on and Eastleigh were first penalised for standing the scrum up and then for collapsing, and when the home side brought the scrum down for a third time, the referee had no option but to award the penalty try.

Collins converted to give Alton the slenderest of wins that could well be crucial to determining promotion placings. Do not bet against Eastleigh being there, too.


Gill; Spencer, Hemmens (Collins, 2), Law, O'Connor; Alexander, Pead; Happel (Osborne. 41), Parratt, Gay (c); Ford, Greenhalgh (Oliphant, 55); Watts, Carter, Flanagan.

Try: penalty try (80);

Conversion: Collins;

Penalty: Collins (33).



Try: Scudio (71);

Conversion: Liston.


Match photos can be viwed at Eastleigh RFC's website here:



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