Alnwick end league season on a winning note against Wirral

Alnwick RFC 50-0 Wirral

In the seven months since September 6, 2018 when Alnwick travelled to Wirral to play their first match in the North Premier and were unlucky to come away empty-handed from a 22 – 13 defeat, Alnwick have improved immeasurably and would now hope to redress the balance.

Prior to this game, both sides had experienced several weeks of fluctuating fortunes and had similar records, with Wirral occupying seventh place with 12 wins plus bonus points and Alnwick’s in ninth place with 11 wins but fewer extras.

The loyal and long-standing sponsors for this match, Tim Burgess of Hackett Chains couldn’t have wished for a better example to illustrate how much Alnwick have grown in stature and benefitted from their support and that of other sponsors.

Despite what the final scoreline suggests, Wirral proved to be robust and competitive handful, the evenly matched sides contesting in lively fashion throughout with parity in most areas except the set scrums where Alnwick always had the edge against the bulkier Wirral eight.

Even missing some regulars, the visitors showed some power and nice touches from backs and forwards alike with centres Speed and Williams always dangerous.

In between the four tries that Alnwick scored in each half, the visitors had ample possession to create scoring opportunities but were largely the authors of their own down-fall through handling errors when in promising attacking positions.

In contrast, Alnwick’s excellent handling helped them to capitalise on any slip-up, sometimes from unlikely defensive situations.

Apart from a moderate but chilling south-easterly wind conditions were nearly ideal with both sides applying pressure in turn during the opening phases before Alnwick secured turn-over ball on their own 22. Spinning the ball wide found winger Weddell whose break and inside pass sent Moralee over for an unconverted try in the left corner for 5 – 0.

Some 10 minutes later a Wirral defensive punt was turned into an Alnwick attack as the ball came again to Weddell enabling Hamish Burn to run in untouched from half-way for 10 – 0, with the conversion missed.

With Wirral still attacking in Alnwick’s 22, Bird made a clean break into the visitors half before releasing Ben Courty whose pacey determination took him over by the posts for 15 – 0, with Bird adding the conversion, 17 – 0.

Alnwick’s bonus-point try came just before half-time, again from their own half as alert play and slick handling saw Atkinson on a 30 metre sprint to the posts for 22 – 0 with Bird adding the extras for 24 – 0 at the interval.

Into the second half with Wirral in possession and pressing hard on Alnwick’s line, centre Alex Robson intercepted a promising looking pass and outpaced everyone over 80 metres to score at the posts at the posts for 29 – 0, Bird’s conversion making it 31 – 0.

An attempted clearance kick by Wirral led to Alnwick’s next try as backs and forwards combined with tasty handling to push up the field for the non-stop Gothorp to round off the movement in determined fashion for 36 – 0, Bird again converting for 38 – 0.

Although Alnwick had by now virtually disappeared over the horizon Wirral stuck at it nobly and were pressing Alnwick’s line when an error handed a turn-over ball to the home side.

A break by Cuthbert was followed by a searing sprint from Moralee and very neat inter-passing put Alex Robson in for his second try of the afternoon, 43 – 0, with the conversion missed.

All over bar the shouting, but still time for some bright forward interplay before Hamilton dotted the ball down for the final try with another Bird conversion bringing up 50 – 0 to round off a high-quality team performance and conclude a satisfactory league season with a thoroughly deserved win.

Elsewhere, Alnwick are pleased to congratulate near neighbours Morpeth on their promotion as Champions from North East Division One and look forward to renewing old acquaintances and the friendly rivalry for the Brett Silver Horse, currently held by Alnwick.

The sides meet at Berwick on Saturday, April 20 in the Northumberland Senior County Final. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Why not come along to support and enjoy some sunshine? It’ll be more fun than choosing wallpaper in Homebase……

Good luck to both teams and may Easter be a happy time for all.

Alnwick: P Moralee (Capt), S Atkinson, A Robson, F Hutchinson, J Weddell, C Burn, J Burn, D Smith, H Burn, D Clayton, J Young, O Sutheran, B Courty, W Pettifer,B Gothorp. Bench: J Hamilton, R Cuthbert, J Cowans.

Referee: Dave Charlton.