Alton Floored By Late Winch Tries
Sat 29 Oct 2011, 15:00
34 - 9
Winchester consolidate second place in London 3 after three late tries end Alton's resistance.
Three tries in the last 17 minutes helped Winchester to notch a comfortable victory at North Walls Park and pile more misery on bottom side Alton.
Despite leaking three tries in the opening half-hour, three Ed Hubbard penalties kept Alton in the game and they were still within striking distance at 15-9 with an hour gone.
But second-row Adam Grant's 64th minute try finally killed off Alton's resistance, before wing Dom Wade and man-of-the-match, scrum-half Adam Adkins, crossed late on to secure a pretty convincing bonus-point win.
Winchester have now consolidated second place in London 3 and though they ended the game with a flourish, they played in fits and starts conceding copious amounts of turn-over ball and far too many penalties. But Alton would sell their souls to be where Winchester are at the moment.
Credit, in part, to the visitors for that: they gave it their best shot but Winchester's sizeable height and weight advantage in the forwards meant that Alton struggled for quality possession.
But six tries to nil tells its own story.
As has often been the case in this difficult season, one step forward was followed by two steps back: Alton would win turnover ball and create good field positions but find their good work undone by poor handling and decision-making - and, once again, first-up tackling was often frail.
While Alton were seldom fluid in attack, they competed ferociously at the breakdowns and for the most part, held their defensive shape. Number eight Garry MacDonell and flanker Tom Gerlach were stand-outs but no one in a red-and-black shirt shirked a tackle.
However, it was a losing battle. Winchester were the tighter and more fluid unit but it was their off-loading in contact - their ability to stand up in the tackle and feed supporting runners - that created most of their attacking momentum. And while good moves were often spoiled by poor final passes or needless penalties, they were much the more creative of the two sides.
The stocky Adkins, half-back partner Simon Fountain and inside-centre Matt Woods particularly stood out and Alton never really coped with their running lines or their ability to keep the ball alive.
Winchester's opening try came just eleven minutes in and was the result of clever inter-passing between the flankers, who combined to send wing Matt Burt over.
Burt crossed again when he successfully chased down his own kick and although Hubbard kept Alton in touch with two penalties, Winchester had a handy 15-6 lead courtesy of full-back Alex Welch's try on the half-hour.
When Hubbard banged over his third penalty shortly after the interval, Alton began to find their feet but typically aggressive forays from Matt O'Connor and a couple of darts from Matt Spencer came to naught.
But Grant's try, a short-range effort at the end of a driving maul from a line-out, decided the outcome and Winchester then finished with gusto. Wing Wade came off his wing to take Woods's delayed pass and dot down under the posts, and Adkins capped a fine individual performance with a super solo try a couple of minutes from the end, dummying from the base of a ruck and sprinting over from 30 metres.
Alton are in Gales Hampshire Bowl action this Saturday with the visit of unbeaten Hampshire One league-leaders Fordingbridge, but the main focus of attention is the relegation crunch game with Andover at Anstey Park the following weekend (12 November)
Winchester: Welch; Wade, Edwards, Woods, Burt; Fountain (Gardner, 45), Adkins; Waite, Edwards (McGregor, 57), Moreton; Grant, Ettinger; Durman (Lown, 57), Adamson, Pervin (capt.).
Tries: Burt (12, 21), Welch (29), Grant (63), Wade (73), Adkins (78);
Conversions: Woods (2).
Yellow card: Adkins (55).
Alton: Forsyth (Gill, 54 ); O'Connor, Pratt, Johns, Spencer; Hubbard, Crowther; Happel, Fleming (Platneur, 66), Gay (capt.); Oliphant, Ford; Gerlach, Parratt, MacDonell (Carter, 61)
Penalties: Hubbard (26, 36, 43).
Yellow card: Oliphant (52).
Referee: Geoff Highcock (Hampshire Society).