Alton Rugby Football Club

Alton Thankful for Second-Half Inspiration

Sat 24 Oct 2009, 15:00


27 - 3



Alton duly make it six wins out of six after defeating league strugglers Southampton, but they are made to toil.

Alton won for the sixth consecutive time and continue to head Hampshire One after notching a comfortable, though not overly convincing, victory over Saints at a soggy Anstey Park.

A sluggish, often disjointed first half was redeemed by a vastly improved second-half showing in which Alton ran in three tries and could have had more.

But Alton were only assured of victory when Hugh Flanagan try and Kieran Collins' conversion made it 20-3 with a little less than a quarter of the match remaining. Up until then, Alton were misfiring.

Their forwards were superb, notably in the set scrum; the backs, reinforced by the return of the massively influential Gareth Richards, were sharp and creative, despite the 32nd-minute loss of Lei Alexander to a hamstring injury.

The problem was that Alton simply could not get the two of them working in concert.

There was a sense going into Saturday's match that Southampton, struggling for any kind of form, would be easy pickings. That feeling was seeminly realised when Alton opened the scoring with a eight-minute try that was simple, yet outrageous. They caught line-out ball on the Saints ten-metre line and the forwards did the rest, rolling their way over from a full 40 metres, with teenage flanker Chris Cox getting his first league try.

Alton were off to a flyer, but if the home supporters thought that this would be a procession they were quite mistaken. While the forwards dominated at the set pieces they sometimes to struggled to hang onto the ball at the breakdown and scrum-half Collins often struggled to find his stand-off.

Saints can take much of the credit for Alton's lack of fluidity, such was their aggressive defence, and indeed they deservedly reduced their hosts lead on the stroke half time when veteran stand-off Dave Griffiths slotted a penalty.

Delicately poised at 8-3 half time, the game was up for grabs, but Alton shifted up a gear or two soon afterwards.

Home nerves were eased a little when Alton scored their second try shortly after half time. Bruce Oliphant and James Gay peeled away from a rolling maul and Mark Greenhalgh was on hand to touch down. It was a rare try for Greenhalgh, a second row by trade, but he did an admirable job for his side on the blindside flank.

Collins missed with the conversion but Alton were ten points to the good and starting to play with greater freedom, and the match was finally settled when Alton drove Saints over from a five-metre scrummage, with number eight Flanagan touching down.

That was Flanagan's last act as he made way for debutant Mike Fleming and five minutes later, Alton completed the scoring with the best try of the match when a sweeping, sustained move was rounded off by full back Sam Law. Collins converted to put a little extra gloss on the scoreline and keep Alton safely in their perch at the summit of the Hampshire league.

* Alton open their EDF Junior Vase campaign this Saturday when they take on Burgess Hill at Anstey Park (2.30pm kick-off).

Alton: Law; O'Connor, Forsyth, Richards, Gill; Alexander (Johns, 32), Collins; Osborne, Parratt, Gay (c); Ford, Oliphant; Greenhalgh, Cox (Lee, 67), Flanagan (Fleming, 67).

Tries: Cox (8), Greenhalgh (45), Flanagan (66), Law (72);
Conversions: Collins (2);
Penalty: Collins (30)



Penalty: Griffiths (40)..


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