Alnwick U15...44 Ponteland...7
FACED with their old adversaries, the sizeable and well drilled Ponteland squad, Alnwick faced their toughest challenge yet in the 2011/12 season.
But the embers of the previous night’s fireworks display must have caught the fuse in the Alnwick U15 powder keg of game play. The squad, to a man, produced one of their the best performances.
Just three minutes into the game and opening the account for Alnwick, a powerful penetrating run from Ben Courty brushed off the first incoming defensive player before being slowed down by the second, but a skilful off load to the human exorcet Joe Cowan was rewarded by the trade mark flight to the line to take the try.
Prop Matthew Ginger was making his presence felt, putting in some bone-crunching defensive tackles on a much larger opposition second row. Alnwick pressed Pont back into their 22, and a handling error resulted in a scrum. Alnwick’s second row power house Brad Sansom switched position to number eight and took the ball on the break over the line for a try.
Ponteland, reeling from the barrage, restarted with a high testing kick which allowed them to chase the ball into the hands of Alnwick’s captain Callum Burn.
Burn was partially taken in the air but managed to break free of the Ponteland challenge and, with advantage being played and fuelled by the incident, he set the grass alight running at the Pont defensive line, breaking through the initial tackle. He was bought to a halt just inside the Pont half. The ball went loose but again Burn seized upon it and drove for the line, side-stepping the attentions of the incoming full-back before going over for the try.
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The re-start pushed the ball deep back into Alnwick’s territory where the testing ball caused an unusual handling error gaining Pont the scrum.
They won the ball but not without the fast disruptive attentions of Alnwick scrum half Bruno Smith. The ball bobbled to the ground and was picked up and passed back by the aspiring talent of Jack Thorburn. The ball came to Ben Courty, who picked up speed inside Alnwick’s 10 metre and handed off the Pont outside centre.
Ponts wing was brushed aside then it was a straight line race between Courty and Ponts own speedster.
Courty went over the line for a very well deserved try.
In the second half the Pont team came out with grit and determination, pressing Alnwick back into their 22 and winning a penalty 15 metres out. Their giant 6’ 2” number eight Callum Chick received the ball and drove hard for the line, but the Alnwick forwards of Courty, Sansom, and Scott Harvey combined to stop him three metres out.
Then Courty dragged the giant a further three metres away from the try-line before the incoming Alnwick forwards rucked over and won the ball to allow a defensive kick landing just out into touch at the Alnwick 22.
But the Pont team were focused and determined, winning the line and a superb switch move just didn’t come off but the ball went backwards.
As Alnwick rushed to seize it a Pont hand managed to lift the ball, and the subsequent quick passing exposed the Alnwick line for a Pont try, that was subsequently converted.
However, Alnwick had the foot on the gas and the re-start and play landed both teams in a maul just inside Ponts half.
The ball was smuggled to Scott Harvey who then set off at pace down the blind side, handing off the attentions of the scrum half, and then the wing.
Harvey drove hard into the last defensive player taking Ponts number eight clean out and at the same time offloading the ball to Ben Courty whose covering play was rewarded by his second well deserved try.
During the next five minutes Alnwick was awarded a scrum inside Ponteland half.
Alnwick won the ball and scrum half Alex Robson launched it to Alnwick’s artful dodger Joe Nicholson.
Nicholson faced with the flat Ponteland back-line, chipped the ball over the heads of the incoming Ponteland players and then caught his inspired kick getting to within 15 metres from the try-line, before being halted, but not before offloading the ball to Tom Pattinson, who went over and was rewarded for his superb efforts during the day by appearing on the score sheet.
One of the most pleasing tries of the day went to Alnwick’s tight head prop and power house Dan Sinton, who picked the ball up from a ruck and on the blind side ran 25 metres, brushing off the attentions of some serious Pont attention on his way to the line.
Final glory went to Brad Samson who joined the line following a breakdown 10 metres from the Pont try-line driving through two defensive players and still clinging on to him still went over for the try under the post.
The game was punctuated by superb individual and team performances - Andrew Potts taking a high kick close to the touch-line and with just his inside centre in defence, with three Pont backs chasing the ball down, cool as ice Potts ran straight at them, putting in a dummy pass to make the gap to go through.
Laser guided kicking of Joe Nicholson and Callum Burn exposing the flat lying Pont back-line and with the blistering chasing pace of Tom Pattinson maximised the yardage gain.
Tom Curry was once again proving his forward prowess with straight driving running powering through traffic and Callum Milling simply one of three best games he’s played getting to the breakdown and driving over the ball to regain the offensive position for Alnwick time and time again.
Joe Cowan, 1T, 1C; Brad Sansom, 2T; Ben Courty, 2T; Callum Burn, (C), 1T, 1C; Tom Pattinson, 1T; Dan Sinton, 1T.