Alnwick 48 Medicals 11
Durham and Northumberland Division One
It took Alnwick into the second half to shake off the challenge of Medicals and then they tore them apart, scoring six excellent tries.
Facing a strong end-to-end wind in the first half, a much-changed Alnwick from last year without full-back Bird (Northern), Moralee (Tynedale), Hamilton (Blaydon) and a few others missing through injury, they were behind at the break and not playing particularly well.
It did not look like that at first when a well-taken ball by winger Potts under pressure went down. The ball came back to young Angus Todd, playing at scum-half who dummied three players before handing over to last year’s top try-scorer Shell, who raced away to score. The conversion was missed (5-0).
Alnwick were penalised for offside shortly afterwards as they tried to drive forward and stand-off Reade showed his prowess with the boot with a penalty (5-3).
Alnwick wing forward Ellis took a quick penalty, and made good ground before passing out to Burgess who was held up short of the line.
Indiscipline by Alnwick saw them marched back 10 metres and shortly afterwards Reade got his second penalty, again for offside (5-6).
Alnwick worked down field and were awarded a penalty but O’Grady’s effort hit the post and was scrambled clear by Medicals. At half-time, the students still led.
Reade started to boot big kicks into the Alnwick half any time Medicals got the ball.
But Alnwick were working hard and put the visitors’ line under pressures. Potts was denied a try when the referee got in the road.
Back came Alnwick with some good running. Todd was held up on the line, the ball got back to Sordy, the pick of the home forwards and he was driven over by the pack (10-6). Stewart Bremner missed the conversion.
Full-back Bremner was having a strong game, he saved a certain Medicals try with an excellent tackle on their big second row Clegg and at the other end Potts crossed the Medicals line after good work by O’Grady but this time the referee said the ball had been held up.
At last, Medical who had been under the cosh began to crumble. From a scrum, stand-off O’Grady waltzed over to score. Bremner converted (17-6). But the students had one score in them – a Reade high cross-kick was taken by Sweetman, who crashed over. The conversion was missed (17-11).
At the other end Bremner added an Alnwick penalty.
Then Shell joined the line with a great break. He was halted five metres short but Todd was on hand to take the pass and score. Bremner converted (27-11).
Quick thinking by back row forward Ellis from a penalty saw him race forward before passing over to Shell for a try. Bremner converted (35-11).
Good work by the forwards and backs eventually saw winger Potts get his reward with a good try and hot-shot Bremner kicked yet another (42-11).
Alnwick were not finished. O’Grady, who had a sound game at stand-off, got his second after some great handling by the backs and forwards, with Bremner converting number five to finish off a great scoreline (48-11).
The students, coached by former Alnwick player Garry Hodgson, who made a cameo appearance towards the end as did Alnwick’s chairman of rugby George Robson, were not as strong as last year but it was a good early test for Alnwick to find out strengths and weakness. They will face much stronger opposition as the season progresses.
Alnwick: Stewart Bremner, G Potts, I Gray, F Hutchinson, A Shell (c), N O’Grady, A Todd, D Hamblin, H Sordy, P Brown, J Burgess, A Armstrong, G Smith, R Ellis, C Davies, Replacements: Steven Bremner, G Robson.
Saturday’s game is away to Blyth (kick-off 3pm).