Alton Draw Positives From Grasshoppers Warm-Up
Sat 20 Aug 2011, 11:30
Positives outweigh negatives as Alton open their season account.
Alton's pre-season build-up continued apace with a four-match pre-season tournament at south London side Grasshoppers.
It was also new head coach Alun Rise's first look at his squad in match action and while there were positives aplenty, there were also plenty of cobwebs in need of blowing away.
And, inevitably, there were injuries, with Nick Ovens suffering the worst of them - the talented young prop will miss the opening weeks of the season after suffering a broken ankle.
But in amongst the knocks and the occasional malfunctions there are real signs that the players are responding positively to Rise's new regime.
The return to Alton colours of number eight Rob Good and utility back Chris Pratt were major positives, while the forwards showed once again that they will be a formidable force in coming months, particularly at the set-pieces.
Full-back Mark Ridgewell was brought real defensive solidity while Pratt and Tim Salmon - the later at stand-off - showed well in a new-look midfield. Come September and Rise could have a few selection posers.
It was Good who opened Alton's account with a try in their 10-0 win over Maidenhead, with Ovens adding a superb, length-of-the-field second before his injury-enforced departure.
A Ben Lee touchdown from a catch-and-drive was enough to see off Grasshoppers II and although Alton were well beaten by Guildford in their next game, their forwards more than matched their highly-rated London I opponents.
Alton ended their day with an avoidable 10-7 loss to Beaconsfield, Luke Parratt scoring their try, but as far as preparation for the league season goes, the tournament proved to be a more-than-useful exercise in stretching the legs.
Alton kick off their London 3 campaign on 10 September at Old Wellingtonian and they have just three more games to finalise their preparations.
The 1sts and 2nds travel to Hampshire 1 side Millbrook this weekend. The senior squad heads off Bordon SEME next Wednesday and the final warm-up is a testing encounter at Trojans on 3 September.
* The club is still on the look-out for senior players ahead of the new season.
Training takes place at Anstey Park on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings (7pm) and players of all abilities and experience are welcome.