Alnwick 22-15 Dinnington
Mr Bumble, the beadle in Dickens’ Oliver Twist had a somewhat jaundiced view of the law and justice - ‘If the law supposes that’, said Mr Bumble ’the law is a ass…..a idiot’.
In respect of criminal and civil law, match sponsors Warcup Law Firm, would doubtless have been happy to give Mr Bumble some advice on the subject, but in the context of Saturday’s match, they, as well as the touchline’s legal advisers from both factions might have struggled to explain the intricacies of rugby’s laws to him.
Dinnington had brought with them a goodly contingent of vociferous supporters intent on helping their side improve on their ninth position in the league whilst Alnwick were looking to steady the ship after their squeaky win over Percy Park in the Northumberland Cup.
There was little to choose between the teams who were evenly matched in the set pieces and both sides showed plenty of enterprise and ambition. Although intermittent rain and a wet ball inevitably led to the occasional wayward pass and fumble, the handling by both sides, particularly in fielding high kicks, was remarkably good.
The late arrival of some Dinnington players delayed the start by 15 minutes and kicking off up the slope in calm conditions under grey skies they mounted some early pressure on Alnwick’s line helped by a couple of penalties.
Following the first penalty, a catch-and-drive from a line-out on Alnwick’s 22 was held, only for a second penalty to provide the visitors with a 5 metre line-out where they lost the ball. Alnwick cleared the danger but were kept under pressure by another penalty before taking play into Dinnington territory through a couple of penalties.
Both sets of backs were looking to run the ball but solid tackling by both sides prevented any breakthrough. With 25 minutes gone and from the last of six successive penalties in 15 minutes, Dinnington finally set up a catch-&-drive from a 5 metre line-out enabling prop Woodcock to touch down, putting his side 0 – 5 up, West missing the conversion.
Alnwick came straight back from the re-start gaining a line-out on Dinnington’s 22 as the defender kicked directly into touch in response to Moralee’s chip-&-chase. Scrum-half Todd was quick to exploit a gap in the tail of the line-out and niftily dodging the clutching hands of the defenders, darted to the line for a smartly taken try for 5-5 with the conversion missed.
Half-time arrived with no further score but Alnwick edged ahead early in the second half when Dinnington were penalised at a set scrum and Bird put over a quality kick from some 40m for 8-5.
The next score was not long in coming and was a little gem which must be a candidate for the try of the season.
Dinnington backs tried to gain ground from a line-out on Alnwick’s 10 metre but were driven back to their own 10 metre line by a crunching tackle from Hamilton in mid-field. Alnwick were quick to gain possession from the loose and from 40 metres Todd showed good awareness, pace and balance as he jinked through and round behind the defence to touch down near enough to the posts for Bird to add the conversion for 15-5.
From the re-start, a clutch of penalties to Dinnington forced Alnwick into defensive mode as Dinnington’s forwards pressed on Alnwick’s line with a series of close-range drives. A yellow card reduced Alnwick’s pack and with the extra man making the difference, Dinnington engineered a catch-&-drive from a 5 metre line-out to put flanker Leitch over, with West converting for 15-12.
Alnwick soon re-established their lead as they won the ball from the re-start and when skipper Frank Hutchinson was held in mid-field, Hamilton was on hand to take over and demolish the defence with a determinedly rampaging run to score by the posts giving Bird a relatively simple conversion for 22-12.
In the last 10 minutes, Dinnington tried to mount attacks from a further batch of quickly taken penalties but were frustrated so effectively by Alnwick’s defensive wall that with two minutes remaining, they settled for a losing bonus point, with West slotting the last effort for a final score of 22-15.
Whether or not Mr Bumble would have felt that the result vindicated his views, he might have fairly concluded that despite the laws best efforts, there was some justice in the world.
Alnwick: Bird, Moralee, S Hutchinson, F Hutchinson (Capt), J Burn, Warcup, Todd, Smith, H Burn, Phillips, Gray, Sutheran, Courty, Hamilton, Gothorpe. Subs: Brown, Ord, G.Smith.
Referee: John Ash.(Northumberland Society)
Next match: Morpeth (Home) Saturday, October 29. Kick-off 3pm.