Malton & Norton 14 Alnwick 29
North One East
After a successful derby win against Morpeth, Alnwick ventured into the heart of Yorkshire again, hoping to follow up their win against Pocklington with another at Malton, writes Nick Willings.
The pitch was heavy and sticky and proved a difficult surface for fleetfooted runners but it provided a perfect setting for hungry forwards determined to get the upper hand.
The early exchanges were evenly contested but the Alnwick forwards were beginning to show more athleticism than their Yorkshire counterparts, who had gone for a bigger, more experienced pack. Again Alnwick did not help themselves by giving away a rash of penalties at the breakdown and allowing the home side to clear their lines.
However, Malton opened the scoring as their bigger forwards showed the wa. After a skirmish near the Alnwick line, the ball was fed out to Ramsay who scored under the posts. The fly-half converted his own try (7-0).
A further lapse in the defensive wall allowed Malton to score again when Newitt crossed after exploiting a gap. Ramsay added the extras (14-0).
However, Alnwick’s hard work in the half did not go unrewarded when Ben Boothman added to his try tally with a typical close-to-the-line effort. This was converted by James Warcup (14-7) to lift Alnwick’s spirits at the halfway mark
The second half was a different story. The Alnwick forwards took a complete grip, the scrummage was solid, the line-out the best it has been and it was no surprise that the front row led the way when Boothman’s fellow prop Andrew Johnson ploughed over wide out after sustained pressure by Alnwick, with forwards and backs combining (14-12).
Alnwick were now in the ascendancy and camped in the Malton half and an excellent break by half-back Moralee led to a ruck and quick ball gave Graeme Potts a try in the corner, which was superbly converted by James Bird (14-19).
As play was centred in the Malton half, a clearance by the Malton full-back was picked up by James Warcup on the 10metre line and, with nothing on, he nonchalantly sent a towering drop-kick high between the posts to increase Alnwick’s lead (14-22).
This underlined Alnwick’s dominance and confidence but there was one further moment of magic as from a scrummage, a deft kick over the Malton backs by Warcup allowed Joe Weddell to race through and touch down for a ‘training ground try’ which was dutifully converted by Bird (14-29).
This was Alnwick’s second successive win and has lifted them up the league table to their highest position this season.
A few weeks ago, Alnwick were not performing for the full 80minutes. This is no longer the case and there is a stronger team ethos, a willingness to work for each other and a determination to make training a more productive place. Alnwick’s players have responded to criticism and they are relishing the challenge.
There will be no more league rugby until January 4, when a strong Rochdale side will be the visitors.
In the meantime, there is plenty of rugby action over the festive season, starting with the traditional Boxing Day fixture against Berwick, at all levels, which is at Scremerston this year. Then Morpeth’s second string come to Greensfield on December 28. The clubhouse is open this Saturday and Boxing Day from 4pm onwards.
Alnwick: J Bird, I Gray, J Weddle, F Hutchinson, A Shell (capt), P Moralee, J Warcup, A Johnson, H Sordy, B Boothman, P Brown, O Southeran, G Smith, R Thompson, J Hamilton. Subs: G Potts, R Elliott, A Bell.