Alnwick pile up the points and remain water-tight at the back
For the second time in two weeks, Alnwick notched up 50 points without conceding a single point in reply.
The scores may suggest a walkover in both cases and granted this was against the two lowest teams in the league, but although Westoe, like Beverley before them, displayed plenty of determination in making a fight of it, in the end they too departed empty handed.
Not without good reason is the term ‘well-organised’ frequently applied to this Alnwick team and in this match, generously sponsored by M.J.Hickey ‘Plant Hire and Contractors’, there was again ample evidence of the hard work put in by the coaching team behind the scenes.
On a greasy surface, Westoe kicked off up the slope in damp, overcast but calm conditions.
Aided by a couple of penalties, Alnwick were immediately on the attack, opening the scoring after only five minutes. From an Alnwick line-out on Westoe’s 22, Bird came into the line and strode through the visitors’ defence on the left for an unconverted try, 5 – 0.
An exchange of kicks following the re-start caught Westoe offside, but as the referee played advantage, centre Rob Cuthbert grasped the opportunity, and touched down on the left after a strong weaving run from half-way, for 10 – 0 after seven minutes, as Bird’s conversion attempt bounced back off the post.
Westoe were awarded a penalty almost directly from the re-start but the kick was well adrift and a further penalty only produced a platform for Moralee and Hutchinson to threaten on the right.
Following a 5 metre scrum, a Westoe counter faltered as they were penalised for offside in midfield and Bird slotted the goal for 13 – 0, and Alnwick extended their lead minutes later when Bird landed another penalty to make it 16 – 0.
Alnwick’s lock Ollie Sutheran left the field with a hand injury to be replaced by Richie Ellis and the game had scarcely re-started when Westoe’s counter to a Moraleechip-and-chase stalled and some excellent handling from Hutchinson, Moralee and Ellis was rounded off by Bird for 21 – 0, before adding the conversion for 23 - 0.
Westoe’s re-start failed to go 10m and from the scrum, some dextrous passing between Hutchinson, Ian Gray and Mallaburn put Cuthbert over for his second try, which Bird converted for 30 – 0.
Westoe now began to put some pressure on Alnwick, and a bang on the head forced Ian Gray to leave the field with Moralee moving to the wing and Hugh Todd taking over at scrum-half. As Alnwick re-adjusted, the visitors battered away at Alnwick’s defences and might have scored but for a typical Moralee cover tackle.
Westoe roared out of the blocks at the start of the second half and, assisted by a couple of penalties and some uncharacteristic carelessness by Alnwick at the line-out, severely tested Alnwick’s defences. Substitute Duncan Smith drove strongly up the left to help ease the pressure and a penalty to Alnwick put them in an attacking position. Somewhat against the run of play, Bird and Todd were able to manufacture a break which Cuthbert completed with a powerful run and a touch-down in the left corner for his hat-trick. 35 - 0 with the conversion missed.
There then followed a dour period of sustained Westoe pressure but they could not get through. As Alnwick conceded several penalties, Westoe persisted with tap-and–go attempts but had limited options beyond using their bulky citizens to gain yardage.
From a scrum following the line-out on half-way, neat handling by Calum Burn, Mallaburn and Cuthbert released winger Hutchinson, who made the most of a rare opportunity and sped over for an unconverted try for 40 – 0.
Alnwick’s fitness was now beginning to tell, and as they drove forward from the latest of several scrums, Todd crossed from close range to make it 45 – 0 with the conversion missed.
The seemingly endless second half had a final blow for the spirited visitors as from the re-start Moralee sprinted up the left from half-way. His inside pass found hard-working lock Matty Gray storming up in support and he unselfishly passed back to prop Richard Elliot who scored the final try, crowning a commendable performance by himself and the whole Alnwick team, with Birds conversion for 52 – 0 topping it off.