Alnwick edge ‘a game of two halves’ against lowly Northern

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NORTHERN 24-26 ALNWICK

A ‘game of two halves.’ Never was this sporting cliché more true.

These old rivals find themselves at opposite ends of the table this season with Alnwick sitting nicely in third position in league North One East, whilst Northern languish third from the bottom with relegation a possibility.

Alnwick were missing a few key players for their visit to MCracken Park, Shell, Hutchins and Ali Gray out for the rest of the season, Brown, Gothorp and the effective and complimentary locks Burgess and Sutheran also missing.

Their absence seemed irrelevant when in the first minute a powerful drive from a lineout saw No 8 Ellis offload to Cuthbert to Mallaburn to Moralee who scored easily. 0-7.

The Northern crowd had seen their team collapse the previous week, leaking 74 points to Morley and they must have feared something similar after this try. It was not to be. Northern looked useful in almost every facet of the game.

The centre pairing of Clark and Holliday caused problems, fly half Collins was kicking well and Alnwick’s front row knew they had a game on their hands.

Northern No 8 and captain Cawthorn was to be a force all afternoon. His presence told in the 15th minute, when after a powerful surge he got the ball out to Clark to score a converted try.7-7. Northern also failed to lose a lineout all afternoon with flanker Scofield dominating his side’s thrown in.

At this point Alnwick dropped a scrum to allow the home side to score a penalty. 10-7. Alnwick were under pressure and it was no surprise when Northern loose head Martinez intercepted a pass and became a winger to score in the corner. 17-7.

The greasy pitch was cutting up but Northern seemed to better the conditions more so than the visitors and just before half time, Clark broke through for his second converted try to make the score 24-7.

Alnwick had been outplayed in the first forty and a wakeup call was required. Bird, aided by Hamilton set the tone for a fight back with a very good break from the kick off. Todd came on at scrum half with Moralee moving to the wing.

The game was a little scrappy at this point but Alnwick had the upper hand and a powerful combined effort by their forwards resulted in Gordon smith going over. 24-14.

Then, on 65 minutes Moralee, on the left, did a magnificent impression of a faller in the Grand National when he unsuccessfully vaulted the fence to retrieve the ball. However, he responded with a stroke of genius. Successfully vaulting back into play, he ran around to pop up in the middle of the field where he received the ball and proceeded to sprint down the opposite wing leaving all in his wake scoring an unconverted try. 24-19.

The visitors were not finished. With Clayton and Maughan on the pitch, full back Bird received the ball in his own half before executing a trade mark break straight through the middle much to the delight of the visiting supporters. He converted his own try. 24-26. Alnwick deserved the victory.

Their scrum and lineout may not have been too effective on the day but they always remain inventive and exciting to watch when they get the ball. Complacency may have contributed to the half time score but they came out a determined side in the second half.

They have the ability to score tries from nothing, their defence is always strong and their fitness leads to a high work rate which few teams seem to match. The final home game of the season next week is against Driffield.

There is a pre match lunch and anyone wishing to attend should contact Bill Thompson 07708186558