Alnwick dig deep for fourth win

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Ryton 22 Alnwick 26

Durham & Northumberland Division One

Ryton were quickly out of the blocks, running the ball deep into the Alnwick 22, but a promising move broke down and a raking kick saw Alnwick up to the ten-metre line for a penalty lineout. Good ball was switched out to Andy Shell whose break was carried on by Ali Gray, who streaked over for a try with Stu Bremner adding the goal points to put Alnwick in the lead (0-7).

Ryton came back strongly and took advantage of several penalties to camp on the Alnwick five-metre line where successive drives by the pack were held. Alnwick broke back to the centre-line where a loose ball popped out of the scrum for Ryton flanker Smith to boot it back downfield and into the 
Alnwick 22.

Further Alnwick penalties gave the home side a considerable advantage in keeping the Alnwick defence at full stretch at lineout and scrum – finally a quickly-taken break caught Alnwick flat-footed and Smith darted in at the posts. The conversion hit the post (5-7).

Alnwick stormed back from the restart – shipping the ball out along the three-quarters and a surging break from Ali Gray split the Ryton cover. A final pass out to Andy Shell saw him race through for a try, again converted by Bremner (5-14).

But the Northumbrians again fell foul of the referee after the restart, which cost them valuable ground and meant they were forced to defend a penalty lineout on the five-metre line.

A series of powerful driving mauls finally saw Oxley driven over for a converted try (12-14).

Alnwick’s probing attacks broke up in the face of a hard defence and a penalty attempt drifted wide after Ryton had prevented Alnwick from taking a quick tap. Ryton moved upfield, taking advantage from a stream of penalty decisions. It ended in a five-metre lineout but the ball was lost allowingAlnwick to win scrum-ball before they were once again penalised.

Ryton won lineout ball and ran it wide for winger Tyrie to finish off the move in the corner and give the home side the lead, although the try was not converted again (17-14).

A forward drive was held and Ryton were driven back, but they won a penalty lineout. The ball was not straight, but they won scrum-ball which was put out to the backs.

Alnwick did retrieve the ball but put themselves under heavy pressure and panicky passing on their tryline had Ryton snapping at their heels. The result was a penalty and the quick tap saw scrum-half Williamson dart through for a try, which was unconverted as an easy chance was driven wide (22-14).

In the second half, Ian Gray replaced Angus Todd at scrum-half and a loose ball back saw Gray pressurise his opponent, who was penalised. Good lineout ball made it out to Ed Shell who made good ground into the Ryton half where the home side were penalised for going over the top.

From a scrum, Andy Shell showed the Ryton defence a clean pair of heels after a mazy run to touch down at the posts, giving Bremner a simple conversion (22-21).

Both teams were battling for possession and defences were on top. Ryton tried a long-range penalty which fell short, but Alnwick found themselves pinned in their 22-area. Another penalty – 20 metres out and in front of the posts – was missed to let Alnwick off the hook.

Ryton knocked on from the restart and Alnwick won scrum-ball, driving into the home side’s half before quick ball was moved out to the backs.

Ali Gray made his way up to the tryline before he was stopped and the forwards came in with support. The ball went back to Nathan O’Grady who stepped his way through the defence for an unconverted lead, taking back the lead for Alnwick (22-26).

But there was still more drama to come as Ryton centre Haylett was injured and had to receive lengthy treatment. After consulting the captains, the referee moved the game to an adjoining pitch, and Alnwick held on for the win and second place in the league.

Team: S Bremner, A Shell (captain), Ali Gray, F Hutchinson, Ed Shell, N O’Grady, A Todd, B Boothman, H Sordy, Steven Bremner, A Alexander, J Burgess, G Smith, J Kelly, P Brown, Ian Gray, O Sutheran, M Watson.

Saturday’s match is at home against Stockton and will be preceded by a pre-match lunch at 12.30pm. Contact Bob Bingham on 01665 602041 or rasbingham@btinternet.com to attend.

• Congratulations to the club secretary Clare Owen-Smith and Gemma Short on completing the Great North Run to raise funds for Cancer Research and Help for Heroes respectively.