Hornets travel to Alton and begin new year with a win.
The Hornets were expecting to face Wimbledonians away this weekend, however they were unable to field a side.
This gave Farnham the points in the league, and allowed them to travel the short trip down the A31 to Alton for an away fixture instead.
A decent warm-up and then a minute’s silence preceded the game. On a strangely sloped, and sticky, muddy pitch, Alton kicked off. Immediately a battle for territory ensued, with John Weldon twice collecting the ball at fullback and calmly dispatching it off his boot, and neatly bouncing the ball into touch.
Some loose discipline saw Farnham concede a couple of penalties which allowed Alton to regain the territory they had lost, but the Hornets established superiority early on in the scrum. Strong play from debutant Lenny Jennings and academy graduate Charlie Trenholm gave a solid base from which to begin phase play. To his credit, the opposition scrum half hounded Tom O’Connell like a hungry terrier, and was able to disrupt the clean ball getting out to the backs.
An exchange of penalties from the kicking tee, saw Alton take the lead and Farnham then draw at 3-3, the Farnham penalty converted neatly by Andrew Freshwater. When the ball did get to the Farnham backline, they looked dangerous. Andy James adventurously chipped and chased, after recognising a gap in the defence, but this was covered well by Alton. Another attack by Henry Milas saw him sacrificially take a crunching hit in midfield, however this drew in the defence and gave space to John Weldon and Rob Brown to attack down the left hand side. Weldon ran hard at the drifting defence, creating space for Brown in the corner, however desperate covering tacklers managed to dislodge the ball as he tried to get the ball down in the corner.
Like a shark that could taste blood in the water, this attack spurred on the Hornets. A lineout infringement gave Farnham a free-kick close to the line. After several punishing drives, number eight Craig Macey picked up the ball and boshed his way over the whitewash. The conversion was not successful, but this gave Farnham the first lead of the game, 3-8.
The Hornets would not relent in their attacking frenzy, despite the occasional dropped ball (probably due to some rustiness after the Christmas break). The imposing figure of Dan Greene received the ball in midfield and crashed hard into the opposition flanker, who, with his long dreadlocked blonde hair had a significant likeness to Aslan, the character from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Greene nonchalantly brushed Aslan aside and made good progress toward the line, before being toppled like a wildebeest with several lions hanging off it. The ball was moved wide but unfortunately did not go to hand at the last pass.
It was not long however before Craig Macey picked up the ball from the back of the scrum and charged over for his second of the game. The successful conversion took the score to 3-15. A penalty for Alton saw them kick for touch, but hooker Dan Ross caught the ball close to the line. He turned up field and expertly side-stepped the chasing winger. This was so remarkable that the side-line cheered, and if England winger Chris Ashton had been watching, he too would have been impressed.
This play set up Dan Greene to score with another powerful run, striking down defenders like a bowling ball skittles pins. Farnham lead 3-22. The half ended with 2 further attempts to score by Macey, but unfortunately he was held up on both occasions stopping him from scoring his hat trick.
The second half was less eventful. On a few occasions winger Ed Keogh sped past defenders on the right wing, but was unable to break through and score. Tom March defended well in midfield with some punishing hits, and Henry Milas made some excellent running lines, using the hand-off precisely to fend off defenders.
From a Freshwater kick, Rob Brown chased well and delivered a crippling hit on the catcher, the moment after he caught the ball.
Two scores from Alton in the second half, one from a scrum, and the other an opportunistic try from a loose ball saw them peg Farnham back slightly. Andrew Freshwater took his total to 10 points on the day by slotting the penalty from the tee, taking the final score to 13-25.
“This is a great start to 2013, but we can clearly improve. If we can get good numbers to training and continue the development of the side, we will be in great shape for the rest of the season” encouraged Captain Tom Foster.
Overall this was a string result for Farnham although it was clear that the Hornets only played at the top of the game for 15 minutes at the end of the first half. Their next game is against Old Wellingtonians at home on the 12th, a 2pm kick-off.
By Oli Richford