Alton Rugby Football Club

Injuries Fail to Quell Seven-Up Alton

Sat 07 Nov 2009, 14:30


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Alton overcome injuries to skipper Jimmy Gay and stand-off Lei Alexander to extend their unbeaten league run to seven matches.

Dazzle they didn't, but Alton duly made it seven wins out of seven and retain their leadership of Hampshire One after proving too strong for league new boys Millbrook.

On the face of it, a 22-point cushion and four-nil try count represent a good return: Millbrook had been beaten just once this season and Saturday's trip to Southampton had 'potential banana-skin' written all over it as far as unbeaten Alton were concerned.

There were no slip-ups, but this was no peach of a performance either, and they only settled the issue when Matt Pead's 47th-minute try put them two scores ahead and effectively out of sight.

Up until then, they were ponderous, uncertain in their handling and even the forwards - utterly dominant throughout, especially at the scrummage - rather over-egged the pudding in taking the ball on themselves.

But Alton can forget the negatives for now - a win is a win, and another tricky assignment away from Anstey Park has been negotiated.

Also, there was plenty to admire about Alton's performance, especially in view of the injury disruptions. Replacement wing and debutant Taryke van Rensburg's searing pace caused Millbrook no end of difficulties, while Dan Forsyth gave an assured performance at stand-off after Alexander had been forced off with a hamstring injury just before the half-hour mark.

Mike Fleming, forced to deputise at tight-head after Gay had retired with a shoulder injury after just 22 minutes, also showed his mettle.

A well below-par Millbrook only had Richard Colmer's 12th-minute penalty to show for their efforts though centre Lee Taylor was superb, albeit in a mainly defensive capacity. As an attacking force, the hosts finished nowhere.

Alton's tries may have have been slow in coming but they were worth waiting for. However, they took just four minutes to notch their first, lock Bruce Oliphant plunging over from a rolling maul.

Colmer trimmed Alton's lead but Stephen Johns slotted a 27th-minute lead to restore the five-point lead at the interval.

Alton did finally find their feet in the second half and began to play like the league leaders they are.

Some good interplay between the forwards ended when Will Ford put scrum-half Pead over and Shane Watts added Alton's third try on 65 minutes when he broke away from the side of ruck and sprinted over from the 22. Johns added the conversion to put Alton 20-3 to the good and all thoughts of banana-skins were banished.

Typically, Alton saved the best until last when full-back Sam Law took a mark and a quick tap before launching an audacious counter-attack from inside his 22; the ball was eventually shipped on to Watts, who was caught ten yards short of the Millbrook line, but his speculative pass was gathered off his toes by wing Adam Gill, who went over. Job done.

- Alton have 'spare' weekends ahead of their next league assignment, when they travel to Burnaby Road to take on struggling United Services on 28 November.

Alton: Law; Gill, Forsyth, Johns, O'Connor; Alexander (van Rensburg, 26), Pead; Fleming, Parratt, Gay (c) (Happel, 22); Oliphant, Ford; Watts, Cox (Lee, 65), Flanagan.

Tries: Oliphant (4), Pead (47), Watts (64), Gill (74);
Conversion: Johns;
Penalty: Johns (28).

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