Lions crash into the final

Novos II...20 Alnwick Lions...23

THE Lions travelled to Newcastle on Saturday to face Novocastrians’ second team in a cup semi-final.

They knew they had to do the hard yards uphill in the first half and set about their task admirably. Green burst up the middle from halfway to off-load to number eight Blakey, who was flying up in support. He crashed through two tackles for a fine opening score. Bremner converted (0-7).

Novos quickly put the pressure right back on the Lions. Hester was penalised for a high tackle and Novos gratefully kicked the three points (3-7). From a restart Angus pirouetted like a ballerina and fumbled the ball which resulted in a turnover. Novos went through the phases and moved the ball out wide for the outside-centre to hand off Gaines and score in the corner (8-7).

Alnwick worked their way into home territory and when Novos’ forwards were penalised for not releasing, Bremner stepped up to smack his second kick into the wind (8-10).

Novos won their own ball from a line-out and after it was switched from one wing and back again, their flanker crashed over a desperate Scott tackle to score in the corner for 13-10 at half-time.

The Lions tried to kick and chase as much as possible in the second half, moving pacey Scott out to the left-wing. But it was Bremner’s kick down the right-flank that had replacement Andrew Ord hairing down the wing to pop it inside to the athletic Rob Ord, who gleefully sprinted into the corner, Bremner brilliantly converting from the touch-line (13-17).

Alnwick started to gain more ground with the wind at their backs and, after Gaines made a dashing break with an impressive turn of speed, Novos were again penalised for not rolling away, Bremner slotting the penalty (13-20).

Any thoughts of a tad of breathing space were soon ruined after Angus fumbled a pass from Smith for the home forwards to pile on and smash and maul their way inexorably to the line to score. A cracking conversion tied the game 20-20 with only minutes to go.

Novos were penalised for diving in off their feet at a ruck and Bremner nailed the penalty and a place in the final (20-23).

It brought his personal tally up to 13 points for the match and move the Lions decisively in front.

The final whistle sounded soon after, sending Alnwick through to the Cup final in an absolute humdinger of a game.

Man-of-the-match: Tony Matthewson