A tight contest

Rugby. Alnwick V Gateshead
Rugby. Alnwick V Gateshead

Alnwick 19 Gateshead 11

Durham/Northumberland Division One

Scoring was tight throughout this game and it was only in the final minutes that a flurry of tries came to secure Alnwick’s win.

In the opening minutes, Ed Shell broke through but failed to link up with brother Andy with only the full-back to beat and the chance went begging.

A drive to the Alnwick try-line was held up before solid defensive play saw Gateshead shunted back into their own half. With Alnwick winning good scrum ball, they made ground from loose play when Josh Burgess put in a surging run. Gateshead hauled him down and conceded a penalty but Angus Todd’s kick went wide.

Gateshead came back hard and a break-out made ground only for the final pass to be knocked forward by McMurty.

Quick ball from a Gateshead scrum saw their backs combine to send Lacina for the line. He was driven into touch by a hard tackle from Andy Shell.

From ensuing open play, Alnwick were penalised in front of their posts, leaving an easy kick for Foster to put the visitors ahead, making amends for a previous missed attempt (0-3).

Ian Gray made a sniping attack to the Gateshead 22 and with Alnwick winning the scrum against the head, out it went along the three-quarters until a knock-on halted the move with an overlap in place.

A score then, right at the end of the half, would have secured points advantage.

After the break, Gateshead forced play into the Alnwick 22-area. Successive penalty line-outs saw them edge closer to the try-line and with Alnwick again penalised, Gateshead fly-half Foster had no difficulty in goaling the points to stretch the Gateshead lead (0-6).

Alnwick were stung by this and with Ed Shell making a strong run to the visitors’ 22, they pressured the Gateshead defence into giving away their scrum ball.

The ball was whipped out crisply along the three-quarters with the final coup de grace from Ali Gray, who burst his way through a scattered defence for a cracking try (5-6).

Alnwick won the restart and took scrum-ball on the centre-line with Ian Gray making a break. It went out to Andy Shell who made ground up the touchline and into the 22-area before it was lost when Alnwick were penalised for offside at a ruck.

Gateshead hammered the ball deep into Alnwick territory and clever play gave them good attacking play at a maul, but a kick-through by centre Heelbeck went too far and out into dead-ball – an excellent chance going adrift.

The drop-out went directly into touch giving Gateshead scrum ball on the 22-line in front of the Alnwick posts.

But the home side won the ball back and put it out to Ed Shell who put in a storming run of 60 metres. Ali Gray took it up to the five-metre line before he went down and Adam Alexander scooped the ball up to go over for an exhilirating try. Angus Todd added goal points to put Alnwick into the lead (12-6).

Alnwick added to this a few minutes later. Gateshead lost possession after a knock-on and Alnwick won good scrum ball. Richard Ellis got the ball away which saw Andy Shell away up the touchline, outpacing the defence to race round for a touch-down under the posts giving Angus Todd the easiest of goal conversions (19-6).

Gateshead threw everything into a last-ditch play, gaining line-out ball just short of Alnwick’s tryline. A surging catch and drive saw the lock forward Strand go over for the final score right on full-time (19-11).

The club would like to thank QUASAM and John Dixon – master mariner – for sponsoring the game. It was the old man of the sea’s birthday bash, well done John.

Next game, Saturday, away at Consett, kick-off 2.15pm.

Alnwick: A Gray, A Shell (captain), E Shell, F Hutchinson, G Potts, A Todd, I Gray, S Bremner, T Dunn, P Brown, J Burgess, A Alexander, G Smith, J Kelly, R Ellis, D Hamblin, Aa Armstrong, S Ord.