Alton 1st XV Cross Stormy Seas to Win Against Isle of Wight
By Steve Jenkins
These had to be the worst conditions Alton 1st XV have ever played in...
On the stormiest day of the winter so far Alton had to cross the Solent for this match. As it happened, they were some 35 minutes late arriving at Footways having been delayed in Southampton, not because of the weather, but due to a technical fault on the ferry!
Kick-off had to be delayed some 20 minutes during which the wind and rain increased to almost storm force. The pitch had many puddles of muddy water and the game could have been abandoned but both teams agreed to play as to re-arrange the game at the next available date would have been virtually impossible due to the proximity of Christmas.
In a highly competitive game both defences dominated the first half of the game, knowing the local conditions well IoW had kicked off with the rain and wind on their backs and in the first half they dominated territory. It is to Alton’s great credit that during this first 40 minutes they only gave away 2 penalties, which meant IoW led 6-0 at half-time, when both teams ran for the shelter of the changing rooms. HT 6 - 0
Alton, 6 nil down at half time always knew that it was going to be a close game but coping with the elements better than the home at the start of the second half side set about the task in hand. They were soon rewarded on 45 minutes when loose-head prop Alex Hankins
burst through the defence to run in a try from some 20 metres out, George Pantry secured the conversion and Alton led 6-7.
10 minutes later stand-off Joe Gwyther
, kicking across the wind very skilfully took an additional 3 points.
Soon after this Hankins repeated his earlier effort from the same distance, this was converted by Oli Fielder
, 6-17. Fellow prop Nick Stoffel
decided that what his partner could do, he could as well and finished off a move that started in Alton’s own half charging in from 30 metres, 6-22.
With just 3 minutes to go IoW managed to put a good move together and scored out on the right of the field; 11-22.
Alton realised that a try bonus point was on offer and forced their way onto the home team’s goal line. Flanker, Ryan Capes, mugged the IoW prop, stole the ball, and flopped over to score Alton’s 4th try. FT 11 - 27
Alton can congratulate themselves on an amazing second half recovery, considering the conditions. These had prompted Alton’s Club Captain, Adam Baker, to comment that had been “possibly the wettest game he had ever seen!” It was also one of the wettest and coldest with all the player urgently needing warm showers and dry clothes to ward off the effects of hyperthermia!
Alton are still tied with Farnborough at the top of Hampshire 1 on 55 league points and only 6 game points separating the clubs.
This game was Alton’s last of 2018. They now have a 2 weeks rest before they are due to entertain Trojans II for a Hampshire 1 league fixture at Anstey Park on Saturday 5th January, kick-off 2 p.m.
The following week they visit Locksheath Pumas for a double header, the second league meeting between the teams, and the semi-final of the Hampshire Plate.