Alton Rugby Football Club

Second-Half Fightback Sees Alton Crowned in Style

Sat 10 Apr 2010, 15:00


27 - 18


Alton ended their title-winning season on a high after overturning an 18-10 half-time deficit to defeat Farnborough in a thrilling match at Anstey Park.

Match-day photos are here - best viewed as a slideshow.

There was a touring team dressed as Elvis, a lunchtime banquet, a post-match barbecue and even a rock band. Sadly, there were no RAF flypasts or X-Factor finalists, but Alton laid on the mother of all end-of-season parties in honour of their two title-winning sides.

Even the visitors entered into the party spirit, Boro generously agreeing to swap venues for the 2nd XV game to allow both Alton teams to end the season at their Anstey Park home.

Boro's graciousness even extended to their players laying on a guard of honour for Alton's title-winners.

To add to the fun the 200-strong crowd, mostly locals, were treated to a slice of rugby heaven on a perfect spring day.

It was a barnstorming match, high on intensity and bristling with enterprise, pace, and the occasional outbreak of handbags. A gentle end-of-term runabout this was not.

The pre-match niceties dispensed with, Boro proceeded to play a somewhat unfocused Alton off the park for much of the first half, with some occasionally dazzling rugby orchestrated primarily by their Fijian duo Will Narruhn and Lagoia Bulu.

Boro deservedly led 18-10 at the break and only a thunderous second-half comeback preserved Alton's record of a single league defeat since these two sides met on the opening day of the season back in September.

Stand-off Narruhn and number eight Bulu were outstanding in that opening period - the savvy Narruhn's quick feet created space for himself and those around him, and caused Alton no end of problems.
Initially, Alton had announced themselves with a wonderful eighth-minute try that started with Matt O'Connor breaking out of his 22 and ended some six phases and 15 passes later when Luke Parratt ambled over.

With Alton seeking to run the ball from all parts of the field and constantly breaking the Boro defensive line, tries always seemed likely.

But Alton's second try, after 21 minutes, proved to be a rather soft effort, scrum-half Matt Pead exploiting a big blindside and a lack of Boro back-row defensive cover to send O'Connor over in the corner.

Alton led 10-6 at that stage but the rest of the half belonged emphatically to Boro.

But their lead lasted just three minutes, Bulu's midfield charge and Narruhn's long cut-out pass giving wing James Huckle space to slide over in the left corner.

And five minutes later Narruhn was again the orchestrator when his delayed inside pass found Bulu at full pelt, and the number eight had the pace to charge over from 20 yards.

Goal-kicking prop Nathan Carter added the conversion to his two earlier penalties and Boro were well worth their eight-point interval lead.

However, it was a different story after the break as Alton stepped up several gears and showed all of the the qualities that have brought them their first league title for 13 years.

They dominated the second half, with the forwards in particular taking control against a visibly tiring and increasingly injury-ravaged Boro pack.

Furthermore, an injury to Narruhn at the end of the first period forced him to move to full-back and Boro's attacking credentials suffered accordingly.

It may not have mattered because Alton enjoyed a near-monopoly of possession and territory, and the points duly came. They made their first breakthrough 14 minutes in, when replacement number eight Adam Baker touched down from a five-metre scrum - a mere ten seconds after coming on to the pitch.

Two minutes later Alton had the lead when Winston Carter popped up at outside centre to supply a scoring pass for O'Connor's second try, and Baker stretched over for the 64th-minute try that ultimately secured the win for the champions.

Alton comfortably held out for victory and were presented with the Hampshire One trophy by Hampshire RFU President, Mike Glogg.

The players can now enjoy a hard-earned rest before they begin preparations for next season's London league campaign when, one suspects, they may well come up against more players of Narruhn's and Bulu's calibre.

* Players and supporters paid tribute to former player Mark Hardman by observing a minute's silence before Saturday's game. Hardman played and coached at Anstey Park for a number of years in the 1990s and early 2000s before moving onto neighbouring Haslemere.

Alton: Forsyth (van Rensburg, 54), Hemmens, Richards, Law; Alexander, Pead (Oliphant 51 - 53); Happel (Baker, 54), Parratt, Gay (c); Greenhalgh (Oliphant, 61), Osborne; Sorby, W Carter, Ford.

Tries: Parratt (8), O'Connor (21, 56), Baker (56, 66);

Conversion: Ford.

Farnborough: Macdonald; Terkville, Kamarieli, Morrey, Huckle; Narruhn, Underdown; N Carter, Stewart, Dring; Coleman, Mead (c); Swanepoel, Boyle, Bulu.

Tries: Huckle (24), Bulu (29);

Conversion: Carter;

Penalties: Carter (2, 13).

Referee: Peter Woodward (HRURS)


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