Alton 1st XV Nearly Defeat the League Champions
By Nigel Youell
Farnborough Kick a Last Minute Penalty to Win 25 - 27
On Saturday Alton played their last league game of the season at home against their old rivals Farnborough, urged on by a large crowd following the traditional end of season “Red Bellies” pre-match lunch. Farnborough who had already become Snow Hampshire 2 champions also brought a coach load of players and supporters, so all boded well for the promise of a highly contested and vocal match, and so it proved with an ending that could not have been foreseen.
However, for the first 11 minutes there was only one team in the game, Farnborough, who scored 2 converted tries through Greg Wood and captain Harry Brewer. Both scores were assisted by Alton’s lack of tackling. Eventually the home team pulled themselves together and on 18 minutes winger Cameron Hamer
forced himself over in the corner following good pressure play from the Alton forwards; 5-14.
The next 10 minutes were keenly contested but then Farnborough’s Alex Gibson ran in a good try after some great runs from James Windle and Kyle Wilkinson, finishing with a flamboyant dive. This was converted but it was to be last try of the match for Farnborough. 5-21.
Just before half-time Alton scored their second try when Luke Parratt
hooked against the head, the ball moved quickly across the park, Farnborough’s defence initially held firm, but eventually Alton’s forwards forced their way onto the goal line and scrumhalf, George Pantrey
snatched their second try, Cameron Wicks
converting. Half Time score 12-21.
The second half began with good pressure from the home forwards keeping Farnborough pinned in their own 22 metre zone. On 52 minutes Alton forced their way into the corner but were forced into touch. Farnborough initially won the resultant line-out; however their poor ball presentation allowed Pantrey to steal his second try; 17-21.
Alton took a well-earned lead on 61 minutes when they were awarded a line-out, they retained it well and drove for the goal line, number 8 Tony Hopkin
touching down; 24-21.
What followed was a script for the last 5 minutes of a match that would not have been believed had it been written down beforehand. Firstly; Farnborough pushed forward and won a penalty for not releasing, a high-pressure kick, but Farnborough’s top point scorer this season James Windle, did not let his side down, bringing the lead back at 22-24 with two minutes to go.
Secondly from the restart Alton were themselves awarded a quick penalty and through full-back Joe Gwyther
retook the lead, 25-24. Surely Farnborough had lost the game; with just one-minute left. From the restart, they were awarded a penalty, then a lineout, the ball went out to the middle of the park and Alton were deemed to have committed a penalty offence in front of their posts. A simple kick for Windle this time to win the game. Final Score 25-27.
The following is a quote from Farnborough’s match report. “A win for Farnborough but to give Alton credit – it was an honourable draw on the field.”
Although Alton may feel that it was a game lost they should reflect that they almost beat the League Champions, who have won a total of 14 games out of 16 and outscored them 4 – 3 in tries!
Alton won 3 out of their last 4 fixtures which secured them 6th place in Hampshire 2 where they will now stay for next season, in spite of a major revamp of the Hampshire RFU league structure.