Played for the Brett Horse Trophy and the Dave Routledge Trophy
Alnwick mounted a typical Reiver lightning raid into the heartland of the Wansbeck Valley, pounded away at Morpeth to finally come up triumphant by the margin of three goals and two penalties to the home teams tally of two tries and three penalties to secure the Brett Horse.
The Dave Routledge Trophy for the man of the match went to Gordon Smith, Alnwick’s outstanding flanker for his tremendous performance, thoroughly deserved.
Morpeth went into an early lead following a lengthy penalty clearance that forced Alnwick into their 22 area.
Alnwick’s defensive centres were up quickly to snuff out the Morpeth play early to concede a further penalty.
Morpeth number 10 Matty Jinks put the home team ahead. (3-0).
Alnwick forced their way into the Morpeth 22, only to lose maul ball that Philips kicked deep to push play well into the half.
A further kick through was returned by full-back James Bird who linked up with the three-quarters.
Morpeth defended hard with the tackles flying in, Alnwick won ruck ball and were awarded a penalty after Morpeth had offended, the kick at goal fell short and was instantly cleared down field where Morpeth secured good line-out ball for Jinks to slot home a good rolling kick to pressure Alnwick in their five metre area, again Alnwick held the Morpeth back only to give away another penalty, again Matty Jinks added the points to put Morpeth 6-0 ahead.
Alnwick fought hard for the restart ball, forced a line-out in the Morpeth 22 where Alnwick won quick ball from Adam Alexander, out along the three-quarters on a flowing cross field move.
Morpeth broke up the move but the Alnwick forwards surged up to drive the home pack off the ball, a powerful drive saw them sweep forward to drive Gordon Smith over the try-line for the touch down, James Bird conversion kick saw Alnwick edge ahead by 6-7, a superbly worked team effort.
Morpeth broke back, a finely judged kick to the wing by Matty Jinks threatened but Andy Shell was alert to the danger and drove the wing into touch.
Morpeth won line-out ball and drove hard for the Alnwick try-line, Alnwick’s defence was excellent knocking down each Morpeth ball carrier, a penalty was given away for Morpeth to restore their lead, again by Matty Jinks. (9-7).
From the restart Morpeth pressured Alnwick with a pounding series of forward rushes that saw Alnwick forced back onto their try-line.
Morpeth shifted the ball from player to player with flanker Max Smith finally breaking Alnwick’s defence to go over for a cracking try, the conversion attempt bent away from the posts, no goal. (14-7).
Morpeth were upping the game, driving hard through their forwards to give good ball for the three-quarters who were too flat footed to take advantage. Falling time and time again to Alnwick’s well mounted tackling.
Alnwick worked a sharp line-out move, Richard Ellis, Gordon Smith and Stephen Bremner combined to set away the Alnwick backs, they also could not break the opposition cover, once more Jinks tried to break the deadlock with a well flighted cross kick only to find Alnwick’s cover alert to the danger and sweep ball and wing man into touch at the end of the opening half which saw Morpeth holding onto a 14-7 lead.
The Morpeth forwards battled their way to the Alnwick try-line but found the Alnwick pack in tenacious form, knocking the ball carrier back, seizing onto the ball and to thoroughly disrupt Morpeth’s drive, a superb defence, this was backed up by an equally powerful defence from the backs, not one Morpeth player was allowed to escape.
Alnwick drove back after winning this piece of forward battle, along clearance had Morpeth scurrying back to make the ball dead.
Alnwick won the restart and following a penalty line-out put in a surging catch and drive that had Morpeth reeling on the ropes, just managing to hold up an Ellis, Smith move, holding on cost Morpeth a penalty, James Bird added the points to reduce the difference. (14-10).
Alnwick swept play deep into the Morpeth half through a scything break from Ali Gray who put away Toby Davidson.
Morpeth managed to stem the attack, gave away a penalty, Stephen Bremner went on the charge from a tap move, in drove a rampaging mob of forwards to sweep away the Morpeth forward defence for prop Peter Brown to be driven over for a converted try. (14-17).
Alnwick surged back, line-out ball was driven on through Adam Alexander and B Bell, the back-row smuggled the ball back from Jim Hamilton, out to Andy Shell whose attacking kick saw Morpeth wing man bounced into touch.
A further tap penalty was carried on by Ellis, Alexander and Brown to cause mayhem with the Morpeth forward defence.
Ellis powered on but was held up short of the try-line,.
Morpeth again giving away a penalty, again the Bird boot added the penalty points to edge Alnwick further away. (14-20).
Morpeth were awarded a penalty at the restart, Matty Jinks kicked through to secure a line-out inside the Alnwick 22 area, a powerful catch and drive saw the home forwards battered their way ever closer to the try-line.
Alnwick’s forwards were putting in a tremendous display tackling and dragging down every Morpeth player and forming an impenetrable cover defence.
Time and time again Morpeth were driven back just when they thought they had forced their way through, Alnwick managed to scramble the ball to Hugh Todd whose high chip clearance went straight to Morpeth centre who ran play back and secured line-out possession, back went the ball into the Morpeth three-quarters, a telegraphed pass was intercepted by a flying James Bird who snatched the ball away to set off on a long bursting 60 metre run to touch down under the posts, adding the goal points to cap a great effort and to secure the Horse. (14-27).
Morpeth came back hard but time was running out, they needed two converted tries but in the end had to be satisfied with a try from Matty Jinks who slipped through to gain a touch down right at the final whistle. (19-27).
A superb match, plenty of action with Alnwick’s defence in outstanding form.
Alnwick thoroughly deserved their win as they had put in a cracking performance and the Horse is now back in his stable at Greensfield, well done.
Team: J Bird, G Potts, A Gray, T Davidson, F Hutchinson, A Shell, N O’Grady, A Todd, S Bremner, H Sordy, P Brown, A Bell, A Alexander, G Smith, J Hamilton, R Ellis, H Todd, J Cowan, A Johnson.