Alton Rugby Football Club

Vandals Pack Send Alton Spinning to Defeat

Sat 17 Dec 2011, 14:00

Weybridge Vandals

20 - 3



Alton's forwards are overpowered by their Vandals counterparts.

Alton will enter 2012 firmly rooted to the bottom of London 3 after they succumbed to Weybridge Vandals on Desborough Island.

They were eventually worn down by a pack of Vandals forwards that dominated the set scrums and line-outs to such an extent that the Surrey men enjoyed a near-monopoly of possession in the second half.

Poor player availability was such that Alton Rugby Club, shamefully, could barely muster eight forwards and they were simply routed at the scrum. Such was the paucity of experienced forwards that they were forced to field wing Matt O'Connor at open-side flank - a position he had never played before at any level.

O'Connor, like the rest of the Alton side, ran and tackled himself to a standstill in a supremely defiant defensive effort. Kudos too to number eight Matt Forsyth who, like King Canute, tried to halt the relentless tide of Vandals forwards at the scrums and often succeeded.

But inevitably the Vandals pack prevailed and the Thames-side club fully deserved a win that will ease their relegation worries over the festive period.

However, for all the excellence of the Vandals forwards, it was 17-year-old full-back George Bolster who truly stood out. He played a blinder.

The teenager contributed ten points but it was his nippy, stepping breaks that provided most of Vandals' more enterprising moments. Vandals will do well to hang onto him.

Vandals were stuttering and ponderous in the opening period, despite their evident superiority in the set pieces. Their game-plan was simple - first receiver Darren Lockyer used his big men to try and beast the ball up the middle, but they struggled to gain yardage in the teeth of some keen Alton defence.

Indeed, it was Alton who looked the sharper unit in the first half, counter-attacking with pace and incisiveness and running the phases with snap and purpose.

With Sam Rees - playing his first full game since returning to Alton - and Tom Willis pulling the strings smartly at half-back, they could have scored twice early on. A foot in touch denied Jimmy Gay a try and Will Ford was a little unlucky when he appeared to have grounded the ball under the posts.

Chances gone, Bolster duly nudged Vandals into a 6-0 interval lead, an advantage that was trimmed when Tim Salmon knocked over a 47th-minute penalty.

But with the scrum going backwards at a rate of knots and the line-out malfunctioning, Alton found it increasingly difficult to maintain a foothold in the game.

Subsequently the second half became one-way traffic as the home forwards took the game by the scruff of the neck and monopolised possession. Alton simply couldn't get a whiff of the ball.

Eventually, it was wing Mike Edmondson who notched the game's opening try, dotting down in the corner following Bolster's incursion into the line and arched pass. And the score came when Vandals were down to 14 men after lock Daryl Bryant was sent to the bin.

Bolster converted splendidly from the touchline and the home faithful were rewarded ten minutes from the end when replacement scrum-half David Loubser barged through some heavy traffic to score from close range. Bolster again added the extras.

Defeat leaves Alton 13 points from safety and with ten games remaining they will need to improve markedly to avoid the drop back into Hampshire One. Their next league assignment is a home game with fourth-placed KCS Old Boys on 7 January.

Vandals: Bolster; Edmondson, Grundelingh, de Coteau, Edgson; Lockyer, Hulkins  (D Loubser); Moore, J Loubser, Goggin; D Bryant, L Bryant; Brooks, Cousins, Bullett.

Tries: Edmondson (58'), D Loubser (69');
Cons.: Bolster (2);
Penalties: Bolster (15', 36').

Yellow cards: Lockyer (36'), D Bryant (54').

Alton: D Forsyth; Law, Salmon, van Herwijnen, Spencer; Rees, Willis (Williams, 58'); A Platneur (Allum, 64'), Parratt, Gay (capt.); Greenhalgh, Ford; Brown (L Platneur, 70'), O'Connor, M Forsyth.

Penalty: Salmon (47').

H-T: 6-0.

Referee: John Robertson (London Society).

* Kind thanks to members of Weybridge Vandals RFC for additional info.

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