Alnwick 29 Driffield 14
North One East
Report by Bob Bingham
Alnwick produced a cracking team performance to deservedly gain their first win of the season after suffering three defeats in a row.
This was a team full of commitment from the start. The forwards out-scrummaged their heavier opponents and produced a better line-out performance, although there is still room for improvements in this department.
The backs were also in fine form, tackling throughout and making serious inroads into the Driffield defence when going forward.
One hates to pick anyone out of a superb team performance like this, but the back row was outstanding and scrum-half Ian Gray had a cracking game, finishing it off with the final try.
The only downside was the sight of James Hamilton limping off with a recurring ankle injury, but there is hope of an early return.
Alnwick were under the cosh early on and it was at least five minutes before they got a hand on the ball as the visitors pressed.
Weddell made an excellent tackle on inside-centre Kitchen.
But Alnwick showed they were up for the game when they broke from their own line.
Shell made a good run after a break by Gray – the ball went along the line, but Alnwick were forced into touch on the visitors’ 22metre line.
Alnwick kept up the pressure and Wedell missed the opening penalty.
Warcup fired an excellent grubber-kick before the ball went into touch from a Driffield defender.
Alnwick lost the line-out and Driffield kicked deep for field advantage.
The Greesnfield men came storming back, a long pass from Hutchinson, which split the visitors’ defence, saw Shell pick up the loose the ball and race over. Weddell converted (7-0).
Hamilton, back after injury, showed his mettle with a storming run. He was tackled, the ball was won back and went along the line, but Alnwick knocked on.
In a breakaway, Driffield drew level, Colquean the scorer, converted by Kitching (7-7).
Just before the interval, Weddell scored with a penalty to reward Alnwick for their pressure (half-time: 10-7).
The start of the second half was the same as the first as Driffield dominated the ball.
Their reward was two penalties in succession, one that missed the posts and the other failed to make touch and Alnwick were able to clear their lines.
But Alnwick held on and then came back with a great break by the forwards, halted by a knock-on.
It was at this stage that Alnwick lost Hamilton, replaced by Thompson.
Against the run of play, Driffield took the lead for the first time when Chapman went over and Kitching converted (10-14).
The Alnwick forwards were having a great day, the scrummage was strong against a heavier pack and the support from all eight throughout was good.
Ellis went over, only to be held up.
Alnwick and Ellis were not to be denied, however, as shortly afterwards he crashed over. Mallaburn converted (17-14).
Richard Elliott had earlier replaced Peter Brown at prop and Peter Moraleee was also on as a sub.
Warcup again chipped through the advancing visitors’ defence. It was knocked on by the full-back and Alnwick gained a scrum.
But despite battling on, they could find no holes in a tight defence.
Alnwick were not to be denied, though. A superb drive by the Alnwick forwards saw prop Boothman crashing over for a well-deserved try with Mallaburn converting (24-14).
Ian Gray had given his opposite number Ollett a torrid time throughout the afternoon and his tackling, ducking and diving to get through tackles must have been an inspiration.
A loose ball came his way and he was off like a shot to score a well-deserved try. Mallaburn missed the conversion (29-14).
So with Alnwick earning a bonus point, they improved their league standing by four places and now lie sixth from bottom in what is going to be a very close league.
It is back on the road for the next two weeks with long trips to Cleckheaton and Sheffield before the next home game.
Presentations of tankards were made after the game to Gordon Smith and Harry Sordy, who have both completed 100 league games.
Alnwick: J Weddell, G Potts, F Hutchinson, R Mallaburn, A Shell, J Warcup, I Gray, B Boothman, H Sordy, P Brown, J Burgess, O Sutheran, G Smith, J Hamilton, R Ellis. Replacements (all used): R Elliott, J Hamilton, P Moralee.