ALNWICK 33 POCKLINGTON 13
NORTHERN DIVISION, NORTH ONE EAST
The Alnwick faithful, bolstered by the many guests of sponsors Manners Transport, came to Greensfield on Saturday hoping for a repeat of the exciting and highly entertaining last home game when Alnwick won against West Hartlepool.
They were not disappointed, although they had to wait until the second half for the fun to begin.
A knock-on from the kick-off gave an immediate indication of the part which the very strong wind was to play in this game, with Alnwick facing in the first half.
They had little option but to try to run it out of their own 22 and, with 15 minutes gone, the pressure told when Hutchinson was penalised for holding onto the ball after the tackle. Britland put the ball through the posts for Pocklington to open the scoring (0-3).
When Alnwick did break out, the crowd witnessed a mesmerising run by stand-off Warcup, which included two lovely dummy passes and nearly resulted in a try.
Although this half was mainly about defence, with Bird halting a promising run by Pocklington winger Allen, Smith constantly harrying the opposition back-row and Sutherland stealing the ball at a Pocklington line-out on Alnwick’s five-metre line, the only try of the half came from the home team.
With A Shell coming in off the wing and linking up with Bird, Waddle was set away, opting for a kick-and-chase, which A Shell gratefully finished off (5-3 at the break).
The Alnwick pack had put in a good first-half performance, young Elliott coming in for Boothman at tight-head and Thompson and Grey ably deputising in the back-row.
The second-row of Alexander and Sutherland, together with thrower Sordy, ensured a continuation of the immense improvement in the line-out.
Alnwick now had the wind but Pocklington immediately employed their tactic of using their much bigger and heavier pack to force the ball up the middle of the park and their forwards were chasing some success in trying to penetrate the Alnwick defence.
Their number eight powered over for an unconverted try (5-8).
However, the stuffing was knocked out of the visitors by two tries in quick succession.
A break by Bird again saw A Shell up in support and his pace was just too much for the Pocklington defence.
Bird converted (12-8).
Then, in a bizarre moment, Warcup found himself in the right place at the right time when he was made a gift of the ball by the opposition.
He raced over the line to provide Bird with a straight forward two points (19-12).
Moralee was replaced by Gray after 60 minutes.
Unlike Care, his international fellow scrum-half Moralee had had no joy with referee Parlett in taking quick penalties.
He was brought back on two occasions when he had the Pocklington defence in trouble.
With Johnson replacing Elliott, a very solid scrum on the opposition five-metre line again saw A Shell come in from the wing and burst through the centre to touch down. The successful conversion stretched the lead, making it 26-8.
However, Shell was not content with a hat-trick. With five minutes to go brother Ed, who’d had a very good game, made an excellent break to put his brother over for his fourth converted try.
Pocklington were to score a late consolation try but it failed to take the shine from an impressive Alnwick win 33-13.
Alnwick defended well in the first half and then again in the first 20 minutes of the second half when the Pocklington pack threw everything at them.
Warcup’s kicking out of hands was pinpoint accurate, with the wind pinning the opposition back into their 22.
The home side ran out easy winners in the end, definitely a ‘game of two halves’.
In doing the double over Pocklington, Alnwick had produced a balanced display, good line-out ball with a solid scrum, the forwards providing the platform for the backs to work their magic and entertain a grateful crowd.
l A minute’s silence was held for Ken Johnston, former National Farmers Union senior group secretary for north Northumberland, before the Scotland v France match at Murrayfield on Saturday.
Mr Johnston died after suffering a heart attack while watching the Scotland v England clash on February 8.