Durham & Northumberland, Division One
ALNWICK carried on the momentum from last Saturday’s resounding win at Morpeth to grind down Guisborough and run away with the game in the final quarter when they scored 21 points.
Alnwick’s tries came from Andy Shell and Harry Sordy, with a brace apiece, and one each to Richard Ellis, Darren Oliver, and Frank Hutchinson, with James Bird adding five conversions.
The Alnwick forward play was based on a solid platform at both set scrum and line-out and, in the loose, they snuffed out Guisborough’s attacking play.
Alnwick gifted the kick-off ball, giving Guisborough a midfield scrum for number 10 Hagen to kick deep into the Alnwick 22, where Shell gathered the ball and bring it back at pace up the touch-line to link up with Ali Gray, forcing a line-out inside the visitors’ 22. A powerful catch-and-drive saw the forwards power their way to the Guisborough try-line.
Alnwick’s power took them through, with hooker Harry Sordy crashing over for a converted try. Goal points were added by James Bird (7-0).
Guisborough won a line-out ball after Bird put a foot in touch, but the Alnwick midfield robbed Hagen and came back hard through Ellis, who found Ali Gray, and along the three-quarters where lock-forward Oliver grabbed made a surging break to link up with Shell who rounded off the move with an unconverted try (12-0).
Only a fine covering tackle by Connor prevented Gray extending the lead.
Both teams were giving away far too many penalties. Basic errors at ruck and maul broke up cohesive patterns of play, with the kicking a bit like aerial ping pong.
The disjointed pattern of play was finally broken when Frank Hutchinson powered into the Guisborough defence. Ellis was up to take the move on. Shell split the Guisborough cover and an inward pass was carried on by hooker Sordy, who completed the move with an unconverted try (17-0).
Alnwick kept up their drive in the second half and, following some midfield skirmishing, the forwards drove the Guisborough pack off the ball.
Angus Todd drilled out a long pass for Nathan O’Grady who spun it out along the three-quarters before the final pass went into touch.
Alnwick won the line-out and then good scrum ball gave Ellis the chance of driving for the try-line. He smashed his way through the back-row for a well-worked and deserved try, converted by Bird (24-0).
The home side made several changes, with Tony Dunn coming into the pack at hooker. Toby Davidson replaced Nathan O’Grady at outside half.
Increasing Alnwick pressure saw Guisborough compound their problems by conceding too many penalties, allowing Alnwick to keep them pinned deep inside their half.
Frank Hutchinson finished off a three-quarters move when he hurtled through for a try near the posts, James Bird again adding the conversion points (31-0).
Andrew Bell joined the fray when he came on to replace Adam Alexander in the second-row engine room.
The Alnwick pack were going at Guisborough hammer and tongs. Bell robbed the visitors at a line-out, in drove the forwards to set quick ball out along the three-quarters line.
Guisborough defended strongly but could not prevent a further Alnwick score when Oliver hammered his way through for a try, again goaled by James Bird (38-0).
The visiting backs were by now labouring in defence. Holes appeared for Alnwick to surge through.
A break down the touch-line by Graeme Potts pulled the Guisborough cover wide.
Alnwick reversed the play where Andy Shell took a long pass to run through unopposed for another converted try (45-0).
A long clearance from Toby Davidson into the Guisborough five-metre line saw the visitors’ full-back Corcoran make a hash of picking up the ball up.
Alnwick were awarded a scrum and drove on screwing the Guisborough pack back to the try-line, where the match finished with Guisborough on the rack and Alnwick pounding on.
Alnwick: J Bird, A Shell (c), A Gray, F Hutchinson, G Potts, N O’Grady, A Todd, B Bootman, H Sordy, P Brown, A Alexander, D Oliver, G Smith, S Gray, R Ellis, A Bell, T Davidson, T Dunn.
Alnwick RFC thanked match sponsors Blackmore’s of Alnwick and the match-ball sponsor Hutchinson Cropwise.