Alnwick RUFC U14...36
HOSTS Alnwick knew that it was going to be a tough derby encounter.
With the downpour overnight the pitch was heavy and the ball very slippery. Having not played the well-drilled Morpeth in the 2009 season, there was every likelihood the guests’ strategic game would pose significant challenges.
However, first try went to Alnwick with lock Brad Samson picking up the ball close to Morpeth try-line and powering over. The try was converted by Joe Cowan.
While Alnwick had most of the ball in the first 10 minutes, a number of handing errors were fully exploited by the Morpeth backs, who retrieved the ball. And from a superb long-range kick from their full-back into the Alnwick 22, their persistence paid off with a try and equalising conversion.
The success of the tactic prompted a number of similar attempts but Alnwick captain and full-back Callum Burn was equal to the challenge, running the ball back at Morpeth at pace.
This blistering pace once again opened up a gap for Burn to go over for the next try. Up stepped Joe Cowan to sweep the ball between the posts for a further two points.
Once again, Morpeth fought back straight away, making significant yardage. The backs took the ball into the Alnwick 22 and, with close support from their forwards, drove over the line. But the kick just drifted past the Alnwick post as the wind had started to pick up.
The game had become more evenly-balanced with the Morpeth back-line stretching the Alnwick defence. Half-time arrived with the game on a knife-edge.
The second half saw the Alnwick lads pick up their game. Close on the Morpeth 22, powerhouse and loose head prop Matty Ginger received the ball and with four Morpeth forwards in front of him charged for the line.
With the first defender reeling backwards from the charge, the second and third defenders scrambling to hold onto the charging Matty Ginger, the fourth managed to down the Alnwick player but, with close support, Matty offloaded to Brad Samson whose reward was one of the easier tries he’s scored this season.
Morpeth continued using the long-range kick to relieve pressure and gain yardage but Burn was on fire, taking the lofted ball at pace and returning it with interest.
His second try saw him run the ball in with close support and options from Alex Sleet.
Scott Harvey had proved to be a thorn in Morpeth’s flesh.
He came close to a try, running the ball from inside the Alnwick half only to be felled seven metres from the Morpeth try-line.
In similar circumstances and having run the ball 30 metres upfield before off-loading, Alnwick backs Joe Nicholson, Ben Cartwright and Andrew Potts had taken the ball to within 10 metres of the Morpeth line and were awarded a penalty.
Scrum-half Alex Robson popped the ball to the charging Scott Harvey who drove through three defending players to go over the line.
The last try of the day went to Brad Samson who ran the ball in from the halfway line.
Special mention went to Oliver Scott, this quiet powerhouse always delivers 100 per cent commitment on the pitch.
The final score does not reflect how close the game actually was.
The next encounter will be very interesting indeed.
Scorers: Brad Samson 3T, Calum Burn 2T, Scott Harvey 1T, Joe Cowan 3C.