Durham & Northumberland, Division One
A HIGHLY successful season was brought to a splendid end when Alnwick soundly routed Ponteland to the tune of one goal and seven tries to nil.
But for the opening 20 minutes they had to hold out against a prolonged siege with their visitors pounding and hammering away within the 22 area and on the try line. It was desperate stuff with the Alnwick players putting their bodies on the defensive line, it creaked but did not break.
The opening storm blew itself out and the home side started to run the visitors ragged sweeping out in a thundering series of quicksilver plays and running in four tries through Harry Sordy, Peter Brown, Will Massey and skipper Andrew Shell, who notched not only his 31st try but also celebrated his 100th league match.
James Bird adding a conversion to his season’s impressive points tally, taking him to 265 points.
Alnwick’s first points came from a five metre penalty line-out. A clean catch by Olly Sutheran and surging drive saw Alnwick power over the try-line for Sordy to come away with the try (5-0).
Six minutes later, the same pattern of play had the same result, solid forward driving play allied with another Ed Shell crunching run ending in another penalty line-out.
After a well-judged take from Richard Ellis, he put in a solid drive, then a quickly-taken tap-penalty saw Peter Brown bulldoze his way through for an unconverted try (10-0).
The restart was a disaster for Ponteland – a long kick by Massey drove the visitors back deep into their 22 area. A sharp run from Graeme Potts was taken back to the forwards, resulting in a storming burst by Massey, darting his way through a flat-footed defence to go over for a try, goal points being successfully added by Bird (17-0).
Dozy fingers in the midfield let a Ponteland chance go and when Gordon Smith robbed the ball out to Will Massey they had blown their last chance. A long clearance back into the Ponteland half. Scrum ball under the visitors’ posts saw it switched to Andrew Shell,. whose pace and mazy running saw him go over for a try that took the heart out of the visitors as the opening half ended with Alnwick comfortably riding on a 22 points advantage and being completely in control (22-0).
Alnwick were soon back in the saddle as the second half opened.
Ian Gray put in a stuttering run after he had gathered a loose ball drawing in the Ponteland defence.
Alnwick’s play in the loose saw the back-row of Campbell Blakey, Gordon Smith and Richard Ellis causing all sorts of mayhem around the fringes of both scrum and line-out, where Olly Sutheran was putting in plenty of hard graft. James Cowan replaced Harry Sordy at hooker.
Another break out by Ian Gray saw the ball whipped out to Bird who had come into the line from full-back to finish off the move with a try wide out (27-0).
The restart drop-out ended in disaster for Ponteland when Peter Moralee raced through following a tap-penalty and Richard Ellis forced his way over for an unconverted try (32-0).
Alnwick worked a series of quick plays with both forwards and backs moving together to drag the Ponteland players from one wing to another.
It was no surprise when a further score came about. An Ellis-Smith-Moralee-Massey and Bird move flashed play deep into the Ponteland 22 where Stephen Bremner and James Cowan worked the ball back. A sharp, darting move from Massey saw him wriggle his way over for this second try (37-0).
Matty Milburn came on to replace Peter Brown. Ponteland made a final bid for a score, working the ball back to the Alnwick five metre line. They swept it across the backs but Maughan was easily driven into touch. Another line-out, another scrum, this time under the Alnwick posts.
Alnwick won ball back to deny Ponteland advantage again. The Massey boot drilled the ball deep into the visitors’ half. Richard Ellis rounded off a splendid match, picking up to force his way over for a touchdown with a cluster of defenders failing to stop his surge for the try-line right at the end of the game (42-0).
A right royal ending to an excellent season that saw club captain Andrew Shell head the try-scoring list with 32 tries followed by Peter Moralee (18), Will Massey (14), Graeme Potts (nine), while James Bird headed the points table with a grand total of 265 made up from 10 tries, 70 goals, 25 penalty goals.
The sevens season is now upon us with the club entering for the following tournaments: Morpeth, Jarrovians and the Isle of Mull.
This latter will see a swarm of Northumbrians arrive on the Island by a variety of transport, one being a by a schooner with captain Bligh (John Dixon) at the helm.