Alnwick edged out in '˜dogfight' of a fixture at Dinnington
Alnwick were always aware that this was to be one of the toughest away fixtures in the league, and they realised right from the kick off that they would be in a real dogfight.
Dinnington kicked off with the advantage of the slope on a very undulating pitch. Alnwick started brightly with Ali Gray putting Andrew Shell away on a good attacking run and taking play up to the Dinnington 22m line.
Good possession was won in that area and a sharp break from stand- off Callum Burn was halted. Continued pressure ensued with Ben Gothorp breaking the gain line and initiating a period of sustained attack that was eventually relieved through a Dinnington penalty down to the Alnwick 22m.
At this stage Alnwick, who had started well, and shown enterprise in attack, were themselves forced to defend, and the first of two excellent ‘tackle turnovers’ from centre Rob Cuthbert relieved the pressure once more.
However, Dinnington were determined to take some thing from the advantage of the slope and they gradually camped in the Alnwick 22 and from a scrum out 5m managed to trundle the Alnwick pack back and score an unconverted push over try in the 23rd minute of the first half.
From the resultant restart, Alnwick forwards regained possession and Callum Burn sensibly used a good grubber kick on the firm surface to gain good field position. At this point Alnwick were on top and were rewarded with a penalty that hit the upright, bounced back and was knocked on by a Dinnington forward.
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Dinnington eventually managed to clear their lines but were driven back by further intelligent kicking by fly half, Callum Burn. From the resultant line out Dinnington infringed, and James Bird Converted a good penalty to reduce the arrears to 5-3. The first half concluded with neither side making any further impression on the scoreboard.
From the Alnwick kick off for the second half, it was evident that Dinnington were trying to move up a gear, and although Andrew Shell and Pete Moralee combined for a superb break which saw the move breakdown just short of the Dinnington line, it was soon to be Alnwick who faced a sustained period of Dinnington attack which was thwarted in the main by superb defence from the Alnwick back row of James Hamilton, Gordon Smith and Ben Gothorp. Pressure was such that Ollie Hamilton was deemed to have collapsed a maul and was subsequently send to the sin bin.
Further Dinnington pressure on the Alnwick line was eventually relieved by good offensive tackling from James Hamilton. It was now Dinnington’s turn to have a man binned and the return to 14 aside brought Alnwick back into the game.
Alnwick pressure continued with a short line out ball to Josh Burgess taken on and recycled to hooker Hamish Burn, who had been lively in loose play. Further pressure from Alnwick No 7, James Hamilton in the Dinnington 22 lead to good interpassing up to the Dinnington line which just failed to bring points. However, Alnwick were awarded a penalty just inside the Dinnington half and James Bird landed a superb penalty kick to take Alnwick into the lead 5-6.
The touchline all thought time was up, but the match went on until Dinnington were awarded a penalty on the Alnwick 22 which was converted to give them an 8-6 victory.
Alnwick had their chances to win the game, but overall their performance was a good one. The backs looked sharp, and will miss Ali Gray if his injury keeps him out. Young players such as Callum Burn, Hamish Burn, Rob Cuthbert, Richie Elliott, Ben Gothorp and Rory Mallaburn are benifiting from a very good coaching set up within the club.
More experienced players within the side are combining to make this side something to look forward to, and to look out for in the future.