Alton Rugby Football Club

Error-Prone Alton Still Too Strong for Millbrook

Sat 13 Feb 2010, 14:30


18 - 5


Alton keep their place at the top of Hampshire One after an error-strewn win over sixth-placed Millbrook.

Never mind the quality, feel the win. Alton took another uncertain, nervous step closer to promotion after seeing off sixth-placed Millbrook, but once again they made tortuously hard work of it.

Tied 5-5 at half time, Alton scored 13 unanswered second-half points to secure the win and although they were never seriously at risk of losing the match, they did suffered some hairy moments - mostly of their own making.

Not that Alton will care one jot, of course, because they won again and still enjoy the slenderest of leads over Petersfield at the top of Hampshire One with only five games remaining.

When all is said and done, Alton were worth their win. The forwards held a clear advantage, even with the line-out struggling to function; they nudged the scrums, largely controlled the gain line and were by far the sharper side at the breakdown.

In all, Alton stole ten turnovers and dominated possession, particularly in a one-sided second half, and on the few occasions when they were patient and composed, they had the swagger of a top-of-the-league side.

A few Altonians stood out: returning old boy Steven Sorby and number eight Will Ford rampaged with good effect; hooker Luke Parratt was an ever-willing busybody in the loose; and in debutant Jon Mountfield Alton found a stand-off who hugged the gain-line, showed good distribution and an occasional deftness of touch.

But once again, a host of handling errors and an inability to convert line-breaks and overlaps into tries undermined Alton's cause.  While the backs did repeatedly create space for runners, too often the receiver eyed the space of ahead of him, rather than the ball, and time after the time the ball was spilled.

Consequently, what Alton won in turnovers they handed back to Brook in handling errors - and they even handed the visitors a try.

For their part, Brook defended their socks off and on the few occasions they got the ball, their powerful centre duo caused a shaky Alton midfield defence some problems.

And had the Colmer brothers made their first-half kicks at goal, the visitors may well have put a boot or two into Alton's promotion hopes.

But Brook repeatedly coughed up possession at the breakdown, and stand-off Richard Colmer's tendency to kick good ball away meant that the visitors had few chances to show their attacking credentials.

Alton were briskly efficient in the opening stages, Winston Carter touching down from a rolling maul after five minutes, but Brook hit back six minutes later when an Alton midfield switch went awry, Richard Colmer gratefully gathered the loose ball and sprinted over from 40 metres for a gift of a try.

Visibly lifted by their score, the visitors went on to edge a scrappy first half. They should have led at the break, Mark Colmer missing with a straightforward penalty shot in the 23rd minute and Richard missing two other trickier chances.

Moreover, it was Brook who came closest to scoring the next try when Taylor's angled break put wing Paul Griffin in the clear, but Matt O'Connor's brutal covering tackle saved the day for Alton.
All square at the interval but it was one-way traffic in the second period, as Alton took all but monopolised possession, territory and the kitchen sink.

They nudged ahead five minutes after the break when they finally managed to work several phases before Carter and Sam Law combined to send Parratt over.

Ford slotted the extras and added a 61st-minute penalty, and although Alton had numerous chances to extend their ten-point lead, they repeatedly spurned them.

The pace, energy and intent of the backs were admirable; the execution and the final pass notably absent. It was a day when the backs would have struggled to catch a cold.

However, Mountfield did manage to get himself on the scoresheet when he scraped over a drop-goal with the final kick of the game to give some sheen to the scoreline.

* Alton take a break from league action this Saturday but face a league and cup double-header the following weekend.

On the Saturday (27 February) they host an improving Fareham Heathens side before taking on Jersey United Banks in the quarter-final of the Gales Hampshire Plate, also at Anstey Park, the following day. Both games kick off at 2.30.

Alton: Forsyth; O'Connor, Hemmens, Law, van Rensburg (Johns, 64); Mountfield, Pead; Osborne (Happel, 55), Parratt, Gay (c); Oliphant (Greenhalgh, 61), Sorby; Cox, Carter, Ford.

Tries: Carter (5), Parratt (46);
Penalty: Ford (55);
DG: Mountfield (80).


Try: R Colmer (11).


Report to follow.

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