War of penalties ends honours even

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Blaydon Dev...5 Alnwick II...5

A TOUGH game lay ahead for the Seconds, despite the return of flu victim, Jon Snaith, whose play-making skills and kicking game had been sorely missed, writes Andrew Hodgson.

It appeared several of the opposition had heard of the reputation of the Alnwick side.

Couple that with a law student referee from Durham University, who hopefully knows the laws of the British justice system better than the laws of the fond game of rugby union, it made for an infuriating afternoon’s viewing.

The Seconds started well, a problem in weeks previous and, with Ord at 10 moving the ball around well for the first quarter of the game, this tactic was nullified by the Blaydon three-quarters who decided and realised there were no offside rules being applied in this game. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Alnwick back-line for the afternoon was their answer to good rugby.

Prior to the game, among the sound of the wind, birds could be heard happily whistling down by the river, a sign that spring was coming.

When the game started, the only shrill that was heard after 2.15pm was the referee’s whistle, as the penalty count against Alnwick rose steadily (22 against and three for at one stage).

But, against all odds, the Alnwick pressure paid off. With forwards driving the play down the pitch, the ball came back across to Tony Dunn, who scored another great try against his former club (0-5).

With the try under the sticks, Felton FC penalty-taker Snaith stepped forward to take the kick. The scored remained 0-5.

Alnwick tried to build on this, but huge Blaydon resistance and dubious infringing kept the score down to 0-5 at half-time.

In the second half, with various changes to the Blaydon side, they played the ball down to the Alnwick try-line. Then the sight of Christy Mould coming off the pitch perplexed the manager. Mould had stolen the ball and the only thought was his dodgy hamstring had gone, however, he had been shown a yellow card and a 10-minute break to ponder this.

Blaydon, with the one-man advantage, pressed the Alnwick line.

The defence was like the harbour wall at Seahouses, nothing came through it.

The next extraordinary act was to give Charlie Davies, a man who has never crossed that line of dirty play, a yellow card for playing the ball!

The six-man scrum that was left, helped by the 10 stone of Ord, held firm, as Alnwick stole the ball and got back up the pitch.

This got Mould back on the pitch, but Grahamslaw, whose groin has been giving him problems over the last few weeks, was forced off and playmaker Toota Allen was left to fill the gap. Fuelled with pent-up energy and words of wisdom, he flew onto the pitch, hit a ruck and as Mould took his vengeance out on the opposition, all hell broke loose.

Tony Dunn stood firm with a chest out like a cock sparrow, pushing and shoving. Various punches were traded, and the luckless Allen was summoned to the court room of the law official in the middle, along with the Blaydon 6ft 8in winger. As Allen faced the third yellow card of a bewildering day, when possibly none were due, the Blaydon winger swatted him on the back of the head to himself get a red card.

Unperturbed, Alnwick piled on the pressure. Dunn collected the ball and bounced off one man, passed the ball out, straight to the Blaydon 10, who ran the full length to score the levelling score (5-5). It remained that way.

Throughout the game, Alnwick tackled themselves to a standstill, and should have come away with a win, but sore bodies left the pitch, with heads held high after a huge team effort.