Alnwick win first ever league clash with visitors from Kendal

Alnwick RFC 36-5 Kendal

Alnwick welcomed Kendal to Greensfield on Saturday, for the first ever league meeting between the two sides. Lycetts generously sponsored the match and on this showing, they and their guests will have enjoyed their day.

Alnwick named an unchanged backline from their win away at Wilmslow last week, with two changes in the forwards; Bird came in for the absent Young in the second row, and Courty promoted from the bench in place of Gothorp, who suffered an ankle injury.

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The game started very brightly, with Alnwick holding on to possession for the first few minutes, and Kendal conceding penalties regularly. Referee Morrison awarded a third penalty in as many minutes and regular kicker Bird slotted three points to open the day’s scoring (3-0).

Alnwick’s resolute defence then kept some good phase play from Kendal at bay, before Bird broke up field but could not find a final pass which would have seen the opening try. The expectant home crowd did not have to wait long though.

A short time later, fly-half Burn put Cuthbert through a gap in the Kendal midfield, the centre needing no invitation to race to the line for an unconverted try (8-0).

From this point, the Alnwick pack started to assert itself over their visitors; both Weightman and Pantechis, Kendal’s halfbacks, felt the wrath of Alnwick prop Philips after pausing too long with the ball in hand. Alnwick won a scrum 5m out and after a patient build-up, Courty found his way over from short range, this time Bird converting (15-0).

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From the kick off Kendal won possession and mounted good pressure in the Alnwick twenty-two; however, excellent defence from the home side’s forwards and backs meant they were kept at bay. The final play of the first lasted around five minutes as both sides were intent on keeping ball in hand and displaying some fine running rugby.

First Alnwick winger Hutchinson pounced on a loose ball and made good yards up the right wing, then Callum Burn chipped and gathered before releasing Hutchinson in the three quarters. A try looked a certainty down the left wing, but as had been the story of the first half for Alnwick, the final pass went astray. Half time score 15-0.

Looking to score early in the second half and kill the game off, Alnwick did exactly that; after a period of sustained and patient build-up, the ball found Burn out wide, who had the pace to get outside the covering defence and score out wide. Bird added the extras and Alnwick were now chasing a bonus point victory for the second week running (22-0).

Kendal regrouped and did eventually get a score of their own through winger Ben Dixon, who sprinted away down the right wing after a good offload out of the tackle, but this was to be their only score of the day (22-5).

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From here Alnwick set about their search for a bonus point. Philips was replaced by Smith on the front row, Fox by Sutheran in the second row and Jonny Burn switched places with Simon Ord at scrum half.

The home side exited their own half well after a long clearing kick from Burn gave Kendal a lineout in their own 22. Alnwick’s lineout, which had gone well all day, was able to disrupt this one and win possession, which a few phases later brought the bonus point try.

Burn again chipped through and gathered his kick, fending off the full back to score a fine individual try, again converted by Bird (29-5).

After this Kendal did have one line-break of note, when winger Dixon broke into the Alnwick 22 only to be well tackled by Moralee 5m out. Sensing a turnover, Mallaburn came off his wing and won a penalty that any open side flanker would be proud of, to dispel any further attacking momentum of Kendal.

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The final try came from the secure platform that was the Alnwick scrum; the ball was well controlled on the Kendal 10m line and Burn again found Cuthbert on an angle. Alnwick’s forwards had little other to do than watch him jog in to touch down, the try again converted by bird who took his record for the day to five from six attempts.

Alnwick can be very pleased with their day’s work after this victory, but tougher tests will come that is for sure. Both forwards and backs played well throughout, but it was no surprise to see Callum Burn named Man of the Match for the home side. Thanks again to Lycetts for sponsoring the game, and next week an away fixture at Kirkby Lonsdale awaits.

Alnwick: Philips, H. Burn, Bacherzewski, Gray, Bird, Fox, Courty, Hamilton, J. Burn, C. Burn, S. Hutchinson, F. Hutchinson, Cuthbert, Mallaburn, Moralee. SUBS: Smith, Sutheran, S. Ord.