Alnwick Rugby Club have secured their North One East status – despite a 22-19 home defeat in this afternoon’s relegation showdown with Middlesbrough.
The Greensfield side avoided the drop thanks to the losing bonus point they collected in this final-day-of-the-season clash.
It was mixed emotions at the final whistle though. While Alnwick could celebrate survival, Boro were left devastated; relegated after Sheffield’s win against Pocklington. Morpeth and Malton and Norton have also finished in the dropzone.
The Teessiders, who started the match in the relegation places and four points behind Alnwick, opened the scoring early on, thanks to a penalty from Simon O’Farrell.
Alnwick hit back midway through the first period with James Bird scoring three points with the boot.
Boro went into the interval 10-6 ahead, as Robert Bellerby touched-down and O’Farrell bagged the conversion, while Bird scored a penalty for the hosts.
Alnwick took the lead for the first time in the match in the second half when Ben Boothman scored a try in the corner. Bird was unable to add points with the boot, meaning the blue ‘n’ golds held a slim 11-10 lead.
Boro regained the advantage when Jack Pierce touched down to put them 15-11 ahead.
Bird scored another penalty to make it Alnwick 14 Boro 15, and then Ed Shell went over for a try to put the hosts 19-15 in front.
This topsy-turvy clash took another twist late-on when Richard Metcalfe scored a try and O’Farrell added the conversion to put Boro 22-19 in front.
A nervous few minutes was instore for Alnwick, but they denied a fourth Boro try to make sure they will play North One East rugby next season.
Alnwick finished one place and a point ahead of thrid-from-bottom and relegated Boro.
FULL REPORT AND PICTURES IN THURSDAY’S NORTHUMBERLAND GAZETTE