Alnwick forced to grind out win over bottom of table Dinnington

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Alnwick RFC 8-5 Dinnington

Alnwick welcomed bottom of the table Dinnington to a windswept Greensfield on Saturday, eager to put recent narrow victories against Morpeth & West Leeds to the back of their mind.

They were looking for a convincing result against the side propping up the league, but instead, had to grind out a hard-fought victory.

Instead, looking for something a little more convincing against the side propping up the league table.

Clayton started in a front row re-shuffle that saw Duncan Smith play at hooker after the shoulder injury to Hamish Burn last week. Courty came back on to the bench and in the backs experienced A. Gray replaced C. Burn.

Alnwick started the game brightly, their forwards getting on top of the Dinnington pack, but for a couple of penalties conceded at early scrums. Philips looked to have got the better of his opposite man Bunting by the third scrum and Warcup used the strong wind to kick Alnwick deep into the 22.

Hooker Smith had no problem hitting Sutheran at the top of the lineout and despite him being taken out in the air, Alnwick set the maul well and drove over the line for a try by Young. The conversion missed by Bird (5-0).

Not long later Alnwick were in a similar position looking to set another driving maul, but into a strengthening wind the throw was not easy and Dinnington broke away from the back of the lineout. Scrum half Veilawa made good ground up the wing but was tackled into touch by Alnwick full back Smales.

From this point Dinnington grew into the game and put the home defence under pressure, using their own driving maul and tight carrying play to creep forwards. After being held up over the line once, they lost possession after a collapsed maul and a great clearance kick from Warcup relieved pressure.

Shortly after the visitors missed a penalty attempt at goal, Alnwick broke upfield and veteran Gray was thwarted by what looked like a dangerously high tackle on the Dinnington twenty-two, which brought only the half time whistle, 5-0.

The wind now starting to affect the game even more, Alnwick started positively, maintaining possession in the Dinnington half and when Bird offloaded well to Moralee sprinting up the wing it looked as though the second try of the afternoon was forthcoming. Unfortunately he was tackled just short and instead the ball cleared to touch for an Alnwick lineout which came to nought.

Dinnington, now using the wind to their advantage cleared well, and after a turnover broke through the Alnwick midfield to within metres of the posts.

The Alnwick scramble defence held initially, but infringed offside allowing a quick tap and go penalty to bring up a try for Dinnington. Conversion missed (5-5).

From this point the game became even more of a scrappy affair with neither side able to string any good phases together, and Alnwick’s prowess in the backs virtually nullified by the elements.

Warcup charged down a kick from opposite number Bunting, which half-time substitute Courty was quick to pounce on; after a nudge through he got to the ball first but was not able to ground it under pressure from the covering defence and a twenty-two dropout the referees call.

Maintaining possession from the dropout Alnwick worked the ball into a kickable range and when Dinnington were ruled offside, flanker Bird capitalised for 8-5, a good kick given the strength of the wind.

Both sides tried their best to add to the score, but a combination of limiting factors and good defense particularly by the back row of Smith, Gray & Bird meant that again, it was Alnwick who held out for victory, maintaining their discipline over a number of phases to see the game out at the end.

Overall this was an attritional affair that won’t stick long in the memory, but the winning habit continues for this Alnwick side up to 3rd in the league after this victory.

Alnwick: D Clayton, D.Smith, C.Philips, J Young, O.Sutheran, J Bird, G Smith, M Gray, J.Burn, J Warcup, P Moralee, F Hutchinson, R Cuthbert, A Gray, J.Smales. Subs: P Brown, B Courty, S Ord.

* Warcup Law Firm generously sponsored the game, and all at Alnwick RFC are grateful for their on-going support.

Ashington 46

Alnwick 3rds 24

The game was played in very windy conditions throughout. Play was even for the first 10 minutes when a good threequarter movement saw Ashington score a try in the corner.

Alnwick responded almost immediately with try by the promising young Colts 2nd row Tulip. Ashington then scored again following further good movement through their threequarters.

Again Alnwick responded with a further try from Tulip.

From the restart some poor defense by Alnwick saw Ashington score again under the posts and at halftime it was 17-12 to Ashington.

An injury forced captain Armstrong from the field and Gray stepping up to play in the front row. Ashington came out of the blocks quickly after half time and scored first, with Cory then scoring a good try for Alnwick in response.

Thereafter, Ashington began to dominate, scoring four tries without response and Alnwick were forced into making a number of changes following injuries, including Turner stepping up from centre to playing in the 2nd row.

Alnwick never gave up and were rewarded with the last try, good work by Tulip led to Slack ( aged 53) running in a try under the posts.