Alton gave Basingstoke a run for their money in the final of the revamped Hampshire Caffrey's Cup at Basingstoke's Down Grange ground on Saturday.

Alton were not overawed by Basingstoke's position as prospective champions of London League 1 and had the temerity to take the lead after absorbing early Basingstoke pressure.

The try resulted from two Basingstoke old boys, David Rowledge and Sam Law, combining in a move that set Jason Rees free to score amid scenes of wild jubilation from the large Alton contingent in the crowd.

This inspired Alton to a spell where they played with great enthusiasm and twice went close to scoring again, but Basingstoke eventually raised their game and Toby Wilson dived over in the corner. Matt Hart converted with a superb kick then added the extra points minutes later after Steve Collins darted over for a try.

It appeared that Basingstoke were going to cut loose but Richard Rowledge, having hit a post with his earlier conversion attempt, was more successful with a penalty.

There was still time for Norm Pattison, charging infield off his wing to join in a move following a line-out, to score a try under the posts that Hart again goaled to give Basingstoke a 21-8 interval advantage.

The first-half had been enjoyable, with Alton fighting like tigers, Basingstoke dominating the line-outs and putting in several slick handling moves that suggested they may over-run their lower status opponents after the break.

In the event, the second period was a huge disappointment, mistakes abounding and little cohesive rugby being put together by either side. The slippery ball produced by the driving drizzle undoubtedly contributed, but the refereeing of one of the top referees in the country, Geraint Ashton-Jones, also played a part.

Despite being wired for sound with his touch judges, Mr Ashton-Jones allowed fringing around rucks and mauls all afternoon and failure to pick up offside also meant the players had little room for handling moves, even when the ball did get out into the backs.

Alton continued to impress with their unwillingness to bow to bigger, fitter opponents and gained reward when Richard Rowledge struck two further penalties that cut the deficit to seven points. Hart gave Basingstoke some breathing space with a penalty midway through the second-half, but handling errors meant they failed to turn further pressure into points.

With nothing to lose, the underdogs staged a grandstand finish and eventually gained reward as the game went into injury-time. The Alton pack that had given a sterling performance all afternoon, drove Basingstoke back over their line for Winston Carter and Carl Knight to dive on the ball, Carter claiming the try.

The last kick of the match conversion attempt failed to leave Basingstoke with a 24-19 victory. But Alton could take great pleasure from a tremendous team effort, while Basingstoke had a good warm-up for next week's vital final league game.

The Tetley's Bitter Dorset & Wiltshire Cup final was an even tighter affair with Dorchester just scraping home 6-5 against Swanage & Wareham.

Converted for the new archive on 25 January 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.