Alnwick Lions...17 Wallsend Warriors...5
ON the first real wintry Saturday of the season at Greensfield, a re-jigged Lions team started with the unfamiliar pairing of Kirtley and Horsley at half-backs against a very unfamiliar Wallsend third team in snowy conditions.
The Lions won a penalty at a scrum and kicked for the corner and, after several phases of play, they had a scrum on the Warriors’ five-metre line.
The famously formidable Lions pack inexorably pushed forward and, with the Warriors being unable to stop them, their flanker resorted to dropping his bind illegally to kick the ball out from under Strother’s feet.This ended up in a spot of handbags with Strother to the fore and the referee awarding a penalty-try which Horsley converted (7-0).
The Lions attacked through a barnstorming run from Clayton. The ball went wide for the other mobile prop Nick Lundy to barrel down the blindside and score in the corner (12-0). The conversion was missed.
Matthewson went off injured, resulting in more juggling of the team, with Acaster going on at fly-half.
Another muscular run by Clayton was held up short of the line for the Warriors to clear.
Alnwick were looking good, with their powerful pack hammering away at the Warriors and full-back Pratt making some useful runs. Matty Jolley was also having a cracking game.
The Warriors attacked the Lions’ line ferociously with their winger going off injured after a particularly brutal passage of play.
The Warriors had a penalty five metres out but the Lions won their own penalty after massive hits from the forwards.
Half-time arrived with the Wallsend 15 unable to score despite heavy pressure in the final minutes of the half.
The second half started brightly for the visitors, with their winger flying down the line, only to be hauled back by his shorts by Horsley to put him into touch.
Strother went off hurt after a nasty clash with the scrum-half to bring Willie on and Milburn to number eight.
The Lions’ scrum released Aaron Scott in the centres and, with a searing turn of pace, he crashed through a tackle to score his well-deserved debut try (17-0). The conversion was missed.
Throughout the game, Kirtley was outstanding at scrum-half, guiding the Titanic Lions pack like a true sailor. The Warriors ran a penalty from 22 straight into Clayton to be smashed back in their tracks.
They had another penalty soon after from five metres but this time ran into Lundy, who wrestled the ball free and made a 30-metre break to pass to Jolley to carry into opposition half.
The Lions were penalised for not rolling away. A quick tap and the ball went through hands along the line and through some very poor tackling to allow the overlap for the Warriors to score a consolation try in the last minute of the game (17-5). Missed conversion.
A typically power-charged performance from the table topping Lions against basically Wallsend II.
Man-of-the-match: Livewire Chris Kirtley.