Due to Kingslere dropping out the league and a weather enforced match postponement, SRFC had not played a first team game since beating Southsea on 11th February (with their previous match before that being the famous 20-12 win over Overton back in January). Alresford, on the other hand, had had a couple of games during that period had racked up a 12 game winning streak since their 2 losses at the start of the season - having scored 275 points and conceded NONE in their 5 games during 2017 (this tally is 262 points scored in 4 games if you ignore the small 12-0 beating of Overton at the start of 2017).
As like most of the season, SRFC were considerably smaller than their opponents and this may have shown early on with Alresford winning the scrums and smashing their way up for a try. However, the tide soon turned as SRFC warmed up to the challenge and put in hits of their own - most notably when with the ball in hand. Both props, Kev 'Bean' Simmons and Jack Caunt sending some of Alresford's biggest men flying backwards (literally). SRFC had intended to play a higher paced game, trying to limit the physical battles, but it seemed as if everyone was up for it and decided to take Alresford on head on. This was great to see and showed the attitude of the men in the team. It was when scrum half, Ash Saunter, took a quick tap-and-go penalty that SRFC finally managed to score in the corner.
The highlight of the first half was SRFC's 2 French forwards (Lucas and Monty) disrupting Alresford's line out incredibly well. This was so effective that Alresford changed to 5 man line outs meaning Lucas had to carry on the work on his own - which he handled brilliantly all game.
5-5 at half time.
Unfortunately lack of concentration and some sloppy hands in the backs allowed Alresford to score soon after the break, however SRFC showed what they can do with ball in hand by marching straight back up the field. A sliced clearance from the Alresford 10, that went backwards inside his own half, was caught brilliantly by full back Alex Burnham to offload outside for SRFC's second try.
Whether it was the lack of recent gameplay, or the few new SRFC combinations leading to a slightly disorganised play, Alresford managed to score twice more - including their bonus point try right at the death.
The two games against Alresford this year were a point of measure for SRFC. The first game was the moment SRFC first showed they had turned around their season and made headline news...the second was showing the squad was strong enough to compete across the entire season and gave Alresford their hardest match for a while.
If SRFC can keep progressing on at this rate, next season they could be top of the league at this point of the season fighting for promotion - Hampshire 2 watch out, because Southampton are marching on!