ARFC Senior squad hosted Locksheath Pumas on Saturday for their final pre-season game before the start of the season at a warm and sunny Anstey Park. With the squad being made up of youth and experience it was an exciting prospect to see what the squad could do after a solid couple of months of pre-season training.
The opening encounters were marred with errors from both sides with both teams enjoying an equal share of possession only to drop that final pass or lose the ball in contact. It was Locksheath who took initial control of the game with multiple attacks into the Alton half. ARFC held strong with a solid defensive shift and turned the ball over when it mattered to clear their lines and relieve some pressure. It wasn't until the 30th minute that Locksheath finally broke the Alton line to score the first try of the game. Until that point the defensive work by the Alton players had been superb with everyone giving their all. Locksheath managed to score a second try before the end of the half to make it 0-10 at half time to the visitors.
The second half was a much more open affair with both teams enjoying an expensive attacking game. Locksheath were first to strike and scored two quick tries plus one conversion. However Alton were not ready to roll over and scored their first try through Ed Thomas who stepped his way through the on rushing defence to dot down making the score 5-22. After some back and forth possession and a yellow card to Locksheath Alton kicked to the corner for a lineout. An Alton over throw was picked off by David Ryan who powered over the line to make the score 10-22. Locksheath replied with a quick score of their own from a rolling maul off a line out. The final minutes of the game were at attritional effort from both sides and again Alton were defending their own line and having put in a massive defensive shift leaked the final try of the game plus the extras. Final score 10-34.
Man of the match went to Leo Gardner making his senior debut. He was relentless in his tackling and looks to be an up and coming player to watch for ARFC.
Next week Alton 1XV start their league campaign away to recently relegated Farnborough and Alton 2XV are away to Ryde.