DURHAM & NORTHUMBERLAND DIVISION ONE
DARLINGTON, relegated last season, have been putting in a stream of excellent results in their push for promotion.
Saturday’s result shows that they are well on target. After just coming out on top at Alnwick 18-15, this side was a difficult kettle of fish and really turned on the style.
Dominant in the forwards, who set up plenty of quick ball for the half-backs to send out a stream of sharp, crisp balls for the three-quarters to go through their repertoire of tricks.
The Darlington forwards worked well as a unit, particularly when close to the Alnwick try-line, where their cohesion and size saw them drive their way over for four tries.
It was a fast-moving game with Alnwick always having to chase their opponents, gifting a try in the opening minutes when, inside the opposition five metre area, a long, slow, lobbed pass practically on the Darlington try-line was intercepted for the home backs to race the ball back 90 metres and eventually to go over for an end-to-end try.
Darlington went into an early lead when their pack drove over from a five metre scrum with prop Oselton gaining the touchdown.
Alnwick came back sharply, gaining scrum-ball which was kicked deep into the Darlington 22 and fed to the three-quarters where Darlington intercepted an Alnwick attempted pass for the home team to run it back to the Alnwick try-line with centre Pugh touching down.
Darlington went further ahead after centres Pugh and Nawacalevu combined to sweep play into the Alnwick 22. In drove the forwards to go over for another push-over try.
A break by Nawacalevu was halted by Frank Hutchinson. From a scrum, Peter Moralee broke wide, but the final pass to Andrew Shell went down just short of the Darlington try-line.
Ian Curry broke away, was held and robbed of the ball, allowing the Darlington three-quarters to break through and a three-man overlap saw Carver go through for a try.
After Alnwick had skirmished in the midfield, a kick through from Robbie Jamieson was returned deep with the Darlington pack driving through, taking the ball over the Alnwick try-line, following a line-out catch and drive for their third forward try.
Gordon Smith took the restart ball. Pack support saw the ball out where Robbie Jamieson was held. The ball went loose with Darlington gaining scrum possession, into the three-quarters who swept through, with Pugh gaining his second try.
In the second half, the pace slackened. Darlington though still kept up their pressure, in quick succession their robust number eight Hodgkins raced through for a brace of tries.
Alnwick fought back with Richard Ellis and Gordon Smith in the forefront.
Alnwick brought on Matty Milburn, Graeme Napier and Kelly. Play was swept upfield by Alnwick to pressure Darlington near their posts.
Darlington managed to clear the danger with Carver kicking deep back into the Alnwick 22, two powerful line-out surges by Darlington were held before the home team got another try through Rogers.
Alnwick ran a tap-penalty move following a break by Jamieson and successive drives by Dave Whitehead, Gordon Smith and Richard Ellis, but all were held.
Darlington won scrum-ball, Hodgkins broke away with support from flanker Rogers, he linked up with winger Peterson who finished off the move with a try at the corner flag.
Alnwick won scrum-ball, where Ian Curry made a sharp break followed by Graham Potts, whose pass to Andrew Shell was judged forward when he was away down the unopposed touch-line.
This was Alnwick’s final answer, match ended with Darlington very worthy winners.
Alnwick: J Bird, G Potts, I Gray, F Hutchinson, A Shell, R Jamieson, P Moralee, S Bremner, H Sordy, Aa Armstrong, D Whitehead, O Sutheran, G Smith, C Blakey, R Ellis, Kelly, M Milburn, G Napier.
Saturday’s league match is at home against Ashington, kick-off 2.15pm.