Alton Rugby Football Club

Ruthless Alton Romp to Opening-Day Win

Sat 12 Sep 2009, 15:00


5 - 47


Ruthless Alton Romp to Opening-Day Win

Alton run in eight tries during a comprehensive 47-5 win at Farnborough.

The Alton bandwagon got off to a flying start as they romped to an eight-try victory against an overpowered Farnborough at Tilebarn Close.

Dynamic, creative and utterly dominant in the opening 60 minutes, Alton notched their biggest league win since January 2007, albeit against a 'Boro side that was a pale shadow of the side that came close to promotion last season.

Whether the margin of victory can be ascribed to 'Boro's mediocrity or Alton's brilliance remains to be seen. The likelihood is that 'Boro, short on numbers and shorn of their clutch of their troupe of talented Army Fjiians, are likely to have a tough few months ahead.

For Alton, this weekend's visit of fierce local rivals Petersfield - impressive opening-day winners against United Services - will provide a few more pointers towards their promotion potential.

But for now, Alton can bask in a job that was carried out with gusto and more than a little flair. Their forwards ran 'Boro ragged; the backs, often Alton's weak spot last year, were razor-sharp and a constant threat. For the nit-pickers, Alton missed another handful of try-scoring opportunities and their performance tailed off in the final quarter, but Rome wasn't built in an day.

As a contest, it was effectively over by half-time as Alton dominated every area facet of the game and ran in four first-half tries. They repeatedly turned Boro over at the breakdown, won half-a-dozen scrums against the head and monopolised the line-out. They led 25-0 lead at the interval: it could and should have been more. 'Boro were game and wholehearted but were repeatedly opened up.

Centre Richard Hemmens' elasticity and searing pace troubled Boro all afternoon but his two early scores, both regulation finishes, helped Alton to get off to a flyer: first, a crunching forward drive down centre field sucked in the home defence and opened up acres of space for stand-off Lee Alexander to send Hemmens over; and with scarcely a quarter-hour gone, the young centre had a brace when he was sent clear from a quick tap penalty that caught 'Boro's rearguard completely off-guard.

Bart van Herwijnen, on as an early replacement for injured inside centre Dan Forsyth, extended the lead when he intercepted a laboured 'Boro move inside his own twenty-two and sprinted over from 70 metres. On the stroke of the interval Alton notched their fourth try after Bruce Oliphant stole a 'Boro defensive line-out and Adam Baker grounded the ball from the ensuing maul.

It was a pleasing moment for number eight Baker, one of the most talented young forwards to emerge at Anstey Park in recent years. An horrific catalogue of injuries, including cruciate ligament injuries to both legs and a broken femur, meant that this was his first league game in nearly two years. His physicality, presence and immense strength will be a huge boost for Alton in the months ahead.

Kieran Collins, who delivered a fine performance despite playing out of position at scrum-half, added a penalty and conversion to leave Alton soaring. The half-time oranges never tasted so sweet.

It was more of the same in the second half as Alton notched another four tries in quick time.

Van Herwijnen added his second. a mazy, side-stepping solo effort that saw him lead the fragmenting Boro defence a merry dance and minutes later a regulation three-quarters move from a scrummage saw wing Matt Spencer convert a simple overlap in the corner for his first league try.

Props Jimmy Gay and Stephen Osborne belied their shirt numbers with an audacious switch, before Osborne's off-load gave Oliphant as easy run-in for Alton's seventh try and captain Gay himself touched down after a catch-and-drive from an attacking line-out. Gay's try was poetic justice after he had a legitimate score somewhat unfairly ruled at the end of the first half. With just a quarter of the game remaining it was 47-0 and 'Boro were facing a rout.

But with the job done and fatigue starting to creep into Alton ranks, the home side rallied and finally crossed for a try eight minutes from time, but it proved to be a single consolation on a troubling day for 'Boro. For Alton, however, it was the perfect league start.

Alton: Law (Carter, 55); O'Connor, Hemmens, Forsyth (van Herwijnen, 9), Spencer; Alexander, Collins; Osborne, Parratt, Gay (c); Ford, Oliphant; Watts, Lee, Baker (Flanagan, 65).

Tries: Hemmens (2), van Herwijnen (2), Baker, Spencer, Oliphant, Gay;

Concversions: Collins (2);

Penalty: Collins.

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