Alton Rugby Football Club

Flying van Rensburg Keeps Alton on Top

Sat 05 Dec 2009, 14:15


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Alton notch their ninth consecutive Hampshire One win after heading off a tough challenge from fourth-placed Romsey.

Taryke van Rensburg won't forget this day in a hurry. Alton's flying wing scored two scintillating tries, pulled off a try-saving tackle and ended Saturday afternoon in the A&E department at Southampton General Hospital. He was even forced to pay for a taxi home, thanks to a hospital bungle.

However, van Rensburg was only badly winded and was discharged from hospital soon afterwards, so his story does have a happy ending after all.

The young South African's tries were bright spots of colour in a grey old game that was high on energy and commitment, if lacking in real drama or sustained quality.

Alton were workmanlike and played well enough when it mattered, faced as they were with a pretty decent Romsey side who enjoyed plenty of the ball, but struggled to do much with it.

Romsey's forwards were excellent. They were the equals of this very fine Alton pack and even managed to get the odd nudge on the scrum, but they lacked any sort of cutting edge out wide, kicked away far too much possession, and too often ran down blind alleys where they were regularly mugged by a razor-sharp, unyielding Alton defence.

Alton themselves struggled to create much from first-phase ball and their set moves were often ponderous, while their tactical and territorial kicking were well below par.

Instead, all of Alton's best moments came from breakaways and when they followed their basic rugby instincts. You can spend an age working on drills on the training paddock but there is no replacement for raw pace and quick hands, and if you give your fastest men the ball and space to run in, you will likely score tries.

Thus did three of Alton's four tries come about, and with better decision-making and execution they might have had more.

Romsey made the brighter start, enjoying the lion's share of possession and territory in the opening stages, but the warning signs were evident as early as the seventh minute when a simple Alton blindside move carved open up the home defence and Matt O'Connor stretched over the line, only to be penalised for a double movement.

But Alton made no mistake four minutes later when Romsey stand-off Mark Stent missed touch, van Rensburg ran it back, linked up with his centres, and Ed Good drew the final man to free O'Connor, who had more than enough pace to dart over from 35 metres.

Will Ford converted splendidly from the touchline and Alton doubled their advantage with an outrageous solo effort from van Rensburg that was as bizarre as it was thrilling.

Once again he gathered a Stent miscue 30 metres out and this time he needed no help, weaving and darting through a bemused Romsey defence before outpacing the cover to score under the sticks.

Ford added the extras but Romsey perked up and shortly before half-time, creating two gilt-edge opportunities to narrow the deficit. First, wing Rhys Campbell-Smith’s touchline sprint took him to within five yards of the Alton tryline but the ball was spilled in contact at the resulting ruck; moments later, centre Oli Sturgess broke the line but his pass was spilled by other wing Graeme Lusty with the line in his sights.

Alton’s lead was extended 17 minutes into the second half with a beauty of a try. Alton won turnover ball on halfway, quick hands from Richards and the excellent Good once again worked van Rensburg into space on the left, and the wing needed no second offer, galloping down the touchline, stepping inside and sliding over.

Six minutes later, a trademark rolling maul saw Winston Carter add a fourth try and Alton were all but home and hosed.

The home side were harshly denied a consolation score late on when flanker Mark Sergison was deemed to have spilled the ball after he crossed from a five-metre scrum. It was bad luck for van Rensburg too - in tackling Sergison, he was winded, carted off in an ambulance and Alton were forced to finish with 14 men.

But it was job done for the league-leaders and another banana-skin avoided.

* Victory against basement side Aldershot & Fleet at Anstey Park this Saturday (kick-off 2.15) will see Alton reach the halfway point of the season with a four-point advantage over nearest rivals Petersfield. The two sides meet at Penns Place on 19 December.

Alton: Law; O'Connor (Gill, 48), Good, Richards, van Rensburg; Forsyth, Pead; Happel (Osborne, 62), Parratt, Gay (c); Ford, Oliphant; Cox, Carter, Flanagan (Greenhalgh, 68).

Tries: O'Connor (10), van Ransburg (23, 57), Carter (64);
Conversions: Ford (3).

Referee: Peter Lewis (Hampshire Referees' Society)

* With thanks to the kind member of Romsey RFC who provided additional information.


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