Guisborough RFC 7-73 Alnwick RFC
Alnwick set off down the A1 for the final time this season knowing that only extreme mathematical chance would deprive them of their fourth place in the league.
Coming up against an already demoted Guisborough side, the result was much as expected but in the event it was not until the second half that Alnwick’s superiority really told.
On a bright sunny afternoon and a hard pitch, conditions were ideally suited to Alnwick’s style of open rugby and despite a chilly wind blowing down the pitch they were soon on the front foot.
Guisborough kicked off down the slope with the benefit of the wind but after the bustling opening exchanges Alnwick rapidly set the pattern for the rest of the match with quick driving support play from the forwards and the ball being moved quickly through numerous pairs of hands to vary the point of attack. Warcup was quick to spot a gap following a ruck and sprinted through from 40 metres to open the scoring with a try by the posts with Mallaburn converting for 0-7 after seven minutes.
Alnwick continued their ‘all action’ policy and with 15 minutes gone an Alnwick line-out set up a ruck from which Warcup’s swerving run carved through the defence to score for 0-12 with the conversion missed.
It was beginning to look too easy and while Alnwick’s handling seemed to lose its focus almost to the point of profligacy, Guisborough were gradually getting to grips with things.
Full-back Pollock was finding some yawning gaps with his strong elusive running and It was fitting that he should score the try from a tap-&-go penalty and then convert it himself to keep his side in contention at 7-12.
Alnwick were never seriously threatened before the interval whilst a searing break by Ali Gray nearly produced a try in the corner.
Any hope that Guisborugh may have had of a comeback evaporated fairly quickly after the interval and although they reacted smartly to clear their lines when an early Mallaburn penalty hit a post, Alnwick swiftly brought play back into Guisborough territory. When the home side were penalised for going in at the side of a ruck they were not alert enough to stop Jonny Burn taking a quick tap-&-go and darting over for 7-17 with Warcup taking over the kicking duties and converting for 7-19.
The bonus point try was not long in coming as Skipper Hutchinson benefitted from good handling between backs and forwards to sprint over with Warcup adding the extras for 7-26.
The writing on the wall was now writ large as within five minutes a lightning break down the right by Jonny Burn was supported on the inside by Sutheran who touched down unmolested for 7-31with Warcup’s conversion making it 7-33.
The floodgates then opened and Alnwick ran in a further six tries in the final 15 minutes. Danny Clayton, Richie Ellis, Brewis, Cuthbert, Hutchinson (2) completing his hat-trick, all went over, with Warcup kicking four conversions.
This was an excellent all-round team performance by Alnwick which provided a satisfying conclusion to a satisfactory season.
Alnwick: R Mallaburn, A Gray, R Cuthbert, F Hutchinson (Capt), D Smith, J Warcup, J Burn, C Phillips, H Burn, D Smith, M Gray, O Sutheran, G Smith, A Blackett, R Ellis. Subs: G Brewis, J Oliver, D Clayton.