Alnwick grind out a tough victory

DURHAM & NORTHUMBERLAND DIVISION ONE

Alnwick...32 Horden...17

SATURDAY’S game was the usual hard-fought encounter against Durham side Horden, with Alnwick gradually wearing the opposition down.

They won by two tries, a goal and five penalties to Horden’s two goals and a single penalty.

Alnwick’s points came from touchdowns from Toby Davidson, Graeme Potts and Nick Mather with goal points being added through Davidson, who kicked four penalties and one goal, and James Bird, with one penalty.

Early on, Alnwick drove into the Horden half, with Gordon Smith leading the forward charge. They won good scrum ball, forcing Horden prop Yates to concede a penalty.

Alnwick took advantage of the penalty line-out – a quick link between Bird and Mather saw the ball chipped through to the Horden five-metre line. Outside-half Baines cleared to touch, where Alnwick took advantage of a quick throw-in. The ball went out to Andy Shell, who made ground up the touchline to link up with full-back Davidson who went over for an unconverted try (5-0).

Horden swiftly took advantage of a poor clearance by Alnwick out of the half. Baines kicked long and deep and Alnwick dithered in defence, giving Horden centre Turner a chance to pull back penalty points (5-3).

Alnwick’s scrum drove Horden off the ball for Paul Dobson to make a break from the back of the scrum with support from the pack.

A Horden clearance was returned by Potts, a brisk back move from Davidson, Shell and Hutchinson was halted inside the Horden 22. The Horden back-row came through offside, conceding a penalty which was goaled by Davidson to edge Alnwick further ahead (8-3).

Horden drove back into the Alnwick half. Turner missed a penalty, only for Alnwick full-back Davidson to knock on behind the try-line. This gave the Horden forwards a real boost to power their way to the try-line.

Alnwick fought them off but had to concede a penalty. A quick tap and pass by Raine saw the Horden number eight Forbes drive over for a try converted by Turner to edge the visitors into the lead (8-10).

Turner could have put Horden further ahead but his penalty kick was pushed wide.

Mather put in a long restart clearance and Alnwick scrum-half Ali Gray made a break with Dobson in support. Potts was brought into play but he was bundled into touch. Good line-out ball saw the pack drive through to catch Horden flanker Bennett offside. Davidson restored Alnwick’s lead with a well-judged penalty (11-10).

Alnwick increased their lead when ill-discipline by the Horden forwards cost them yet another penalty with Davidson hammering over the points (14-10).

Horden fell further behind. A deep clearance from Horden full-back Heckles was superbly picked off by Andy Shell, his run and link-up play was carried on by Potts, whose pace took him up the touch-line on a 70-metre run ending with the touchdown, which try was duly converted by Davidson (21-10).

Horden fought their way back. An Alnwick clearance kick was driven back deep into the Alnwick 22, where a scramble for line-out ball gave advantage to the visitors who were awarded a five-metre scrum. A great drive ended with prop Yates getting over for a try. Goal points were added by Turner (21-17).

Alnwick continued to drive on, with Horden desperately tackling everything in sight. A midfield stalemate ensued, broken by the yellow-carding of one player from each side, Bennett for Horden and Whitehead, who had only been on the field for seven minutes and was silly to react only a few metres from the referee.

Alnwick’s kick through was followed up by Shell and Ali Gray, who quickly turned over Horden full-back Heckles, a penalty being given to Alnwick for non-release. Davidson added the goal (24-17).

A break-through from Mather was carried on by Frank Hutchinson, out to Shell who was felled by a high tackle, Bird easily adding the penalty points (27-17).

Alnwick continued to drive the Horden forwards around the pitch. Probing runs in the centre led to a Dobson break. He linked up with lock-forward Hamilton, whose power and pace took him wide to the touch-line. Horden took a scrum after the ball had been knocked forward.

Alnwick robbed them of the ball, Mather made a cracking break carried on by Dobson, Hutchinson and Ali Gray before Mather came through to go over to round off a splendid piece of attacking play right at the end of the match (32-17).

Alnwick: T Davidson, A Shell (c), F Hutchinson, J Bird, G Potts, N Mather, A Gray, D Hamblin, D Napier, B Boothman, A Armstrong, J Hamilton, G Smith, S Gray, P Dobson, N O’Grady, D Whitehead, J Dunn.