Alton 1st XV Delivers Double Header Win Against Locks Heath Pumas
By Steve Jenkins
Competent performance to record league and cup win
Not the try-fest of last week but still a very competent performance against a side whose recent record belies their ability. Locks Heath in fact have the best losing result against Alton for this season, 10-3 back in mid-September.
Pumas started the match with real intent, keeping Alton pinned in their own half for most of the first 20 minutes of the game. Eventually the “Red Bellies” worked out how to deal with their hosts and took the match into their 22-metre area. Pumas were adjudged on 22 minutes to have sealed off a tackle and stand-off Joe Gwyther put the first 3 points on the board for the resultant penalty.
6 minutes later from a line-out Jez Powell fed his fellow back-row Matt Sellstrom who set up the move for a centre Bren Sumner score close to the posts, giving Gwyther a straight forward conversion; 0-10. 3 minutes later Alton re-cycled the ball from a breakdown on the half-way line, interlinking and backing up well they released Gwyther himself to score, he converted his own try. At half-time Alton led 0-17. HT 0-17
Early in the second half Pumas showed just how good they can be when they scored a well created converted try; 7-17. This only served to galvanised Alton and with the wind now on their backs they went back into the home side’s half. A Puma was deemed to have lifted a player in a tackle and Gwyther put over his second penalty of the day; 7-20. Pumas defence was strong throughout the 2nd half but eventually scrum-half George Pantry finished off a move from a line-out, again set up by Powell, Gwyther converting; 7-27.
On 25 minutes a yellow card resulted in a period of uncontested scrummaging and Alton’s experienced number 8, Tony Hopkin helped himself to the bonus point try; 7 minutes later Sellstrom made the result secure scoring a try, again off a line-out. Neither try was converted. FT 7-37
This game served as a double header, not only a league match, but as the Semi-Final of the Hampshire Plate competition. Alton now await to learn the outcome of the other Semi between Fareham Heathens (Hampshire Premiership), and Ellingham & Ringwood (currently 3rd in Hampshire 1); and also the venue for the Final.
As Alton continued their good start to 2019, they learnt that they still head the League. Although they are equal on league points with Farnborough, the game points difference, is now 102 in Alton’s favour. The change is due to the withdrawal of Winchester 2nds which means that any results involving them are deleted. The league has a rest next weekend, but Alton has the honour of hosting Farnborough on Saturday 26th January, it will be a “crunch” match for both teams.