ALNWICK 2nds 26 MORPETH 2nds 21
Candy Cup Final
Alnwick 2nds completed a Candy League and cup double at the weekend when they beat Morpeth 2nds in the final at Ashington.
Prior to the start, both teams wore Team Olly shirts to raise funds of 17-year-old Oliver Bultitude, a Morpeth Colt, who is suffering from bone cancer and requires a sport prosthetic leg after losing it during treatment for the disease. Any donations via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fiona-mather.
Although Alnwick had beaten their rivals comprehensively in their previous two meetings this proved to be a more cagey affair.
Morpeth took an early lead early through a try down the left-wing and a series of penalties for offside led them to increasing their advantage before Alnwick struck back.
Both teams effectively cancelled each other out but Alnwick’s handling errors cost them, with failure to score at their visits to the opposition try-line and ended with Morpeth intercepting a pass and scoring, leaving it 15-12 at half-time.
The second half saw Alnwick’s running game finally get going but Morpeth’s defence and continuing errors failed to create any momentum.
The game swung back and forth but a try and penalty saw Alnwick move into an eight-point lead before a needless penalty saw it pegged back to five points at 26-21, which was the final score.
ROSSENDALE 37 ALNWICK 1sts 26
This was Alnwick’s first visit to Rossendale RUFC, based in Rawtenstall, and their last away game of the season.
Both sides began a little nervously before a big hit by Hamish Burn in midfield led to Alnwick turning over the ball although the resulting attack petered out.
Rossendale cleared their lines with a fine kick only to have the ball returned with credit when quick-thinking Atkinson threw in long to Weddle, who moved the ball out to Hutchinson to go over for a converted try for 0-7, while in the process destroying Alnwick’s cameraman’s tripod.
Rossendale appeared to have got the message that to kick to the visitors and invite the counter-attack was not very productive.
Keeping ball in hand, they made better progress and eventually their powerful inside-centre Ward went over for an unconverted try for 5-7.
In what was becoming a very open game, Clayton picked up a loose ball to begin an Alnwick attack which again exploited their left-flank allowing Weddle to increase the lead with an unconverted try. 5-12.
The home team then began to get a grip on the game with pressure telling and Alnwick having to concede a number of penalties.
In what seemed to be a legitimate counter ruck, they were penalised for not going through the gate and this was followed by J Burn being yellow carded for persistent offences. Despite sterling work by Clayton and the Alnwick defence, outside-centre Pattison eventually broke through. 10-12.
Cowans replaced Clayton on 30 minutes before an unfortunate clearance was punished by the home team in a tidy back-row attack, which saw No.8 Moon go over for a converted try. 17-12, the half-time score.
If Alnwick hoped to make a convincing start to the 2nd half Rossendale had other ideas. They immediately punished a knock-on from the restart, with Wilkinson surging through to increase the lead. 24-12.
Slick handling with a ‘give and receive’ by the Lancastrian fly-half opened up the Alnwick defence once more to make it 31-24. Hutchinson came off with a shoulder injury,
Ellis came on, with Robson leaving the field, resulting in an Alnwick reshuffle with Todd coming in to scrum-half. Thus began a brighter period for the visitors, with Todd in particular injecting a sense of urgency. Although Bird, in an attempt to put the visitors on the front foot, found himself isolated and forced to concede a penalty. 34-12,
Alnwick were going into the final quarter determined to come away with something. Young was able to support another break by Todd to cap yet another fine performance by the Alnwick 2nd row, going over for a converted try. 34-19.
More pressure by the visitors before dissent born out of frustration perhaps, allowed Rossendale to add a further three points for 37-19, with a penalty from 30m out. The visitors’ ceaseless efforts were rewarded when replacement prop Cowans, with a huge grin on his face, went over the line for a converted try to give the Greensfield team a well-deserved bonus point.
The final score of 37-26 was witness to a good, open game enjoyed by both sets of spectators.
Apart from the last 20 minutes when their line-out fell short of the mark, Alnwick had competed well in the set-pieces. The home team, however, were able to break the visitors’ defensive line on a number of occasions and this appeared to be the main difference between the two sides.
On the plus side for Alnwick, the players brought into the side because of injuries, played very well indeed.
Team: Atkinson, Moralee, Hutchinson, Robson, Weddle, C Burn, J Burn, Smith, H Burn, Clayton, Young, Sutheran, Courty, Pettifer, Bird, Cowans, Todd, Ellis.
This week’s game is against Wirral, who put 75 points past Vale of Lune last Saturday. It is the final league game of the season. There will be a lunch before the game, everyone welcome, names to Michelle on 01665 602342.