Alnwick Lions...15 Medicals...14
THE Lions took a noisy following down to Seghill for the County Cup final on Saturday to face a Medicals second side who were sitting top of the league above the Lions.
The hailstones had stopped by the time of kick-off although there was still a strong wind blowing down the pitch. The Lions started well into the wind in the first half and made the early running.
Medicals were penalised early doors in front of the posts 35 metres out.
Bremner fancied his chances to what looked like a very difficult kick into the wind. Alas Mother Nature won and his kick petered out well short.
The Lions piled on the pressure through some great drives by the forwards and their endeavours were rewarded when Medics infringed again and this time Bremner made no mistake from 20 metres out, (3-0).
Medics attacked through their more than useful inside centre who was crunched in a tackle from Bremner. The ball was moved back inside to their forwards to see Tony Dunn penalised for tackling with both his hands still in his pockets.
The Medics fly-half fancied his chances with the wind at his back but pushed his kick wide right.
Medics were starting to show what a good side they are and soon had another penalty from a good 40 metres out which their fly-half nailed, (3-3).
It was all Medics by now and the Lions were scrambling around trying to stem the tide.
Alnwick fell foul of the referee again and the resultant kick was successful, (3-6).
The Lions had a rare foray into the Medics half but some poor passing saw the move fizzle out with an overlap going begging.
Medics were using the wind to good effect pinning the Lions deep into their own territory. The pressure told after a line-out had the Medics half-backs spreading the ball quickly across the width of the pitch for the right winger to cruise in at the corner, (3-11). Missed conversion.
Medics had another penalty chance after some more ill-discipline at a ruck only for the kick to be pulled left of the uprights.
A grateful Alnwick side made it to half-time 3-11 down after a very nervous first-half performance.
The introduction of Simon Ord at scrum-half at half-time was to have a big impact on the game.
The half started explosively for the Lions after Blakey took the restart on his own 22 and went off on a remarkable run, powerfully making his way 60 metres up the pitch. The move came to an end when he unselfishly tried to pass outside when he could have gone himself but it was a big statement of intent.
Ord was proving to be a monster in the tackle and even managed to get penalised for dump-tackling one of the Medics forwards.
It was all Lions in the second half with the players really fired up after finally realising they were in a cup final.
After another hammering attack the Lions found themselves with a line-out 10 metres out. The ball was thrown long to Wayne Dunn who successfully grabbed it to set the drive.
The Lions powered the drive across the line to see pack leader Neil ground the ball for the score, (8-11), Bremner kicking a fantastic conversion from out wide right, (10-11).
The Lions were now all over Medicals with Hester outstanding in the tackle and showing an unbelievable work rate.
Donkin was brought on into the centres to bring some needed experience into the side in such a tight game.
Medics attacked through their pacy backs and when the Lions were seemingly harshly penalised, the fly-half stepped up to extend the Medics lead to (10-14), very much against the run of play.
Back came the Lions with wave after wave of attack wearing down the Medics defence. Play moved down the left flank and after chasing down the Medics full-back, the Lions had a line-out 22 metres out.
Again the ball went to Wayne Dunn but this time the ball moved inside quicker. The Lions pack roared their way closer to see Ord break two tackles to score, (15-14), missed conversion.
With 15 minutes left it was all to play for.
Medics realised that the only way back into the game was to keep the ball in hand and mounted attack after attack trying to use their pacy backs.
With minutes left Matthewson made a classic open-side tackle and was back on his feet in an instant to rip the ball back for the Lions.
Play moved back down into the Medics half but some over-exuberant passing had Medics back with the pill.
After a series of scrums, the referee finally blew his whistle to start the celebrations.
An absolute humdinger of a game.
Man-of-the-match: James Hester.