Nearly a half-century as home side extend lead at top of table

Alnwick 48 Ryton 3

Alnwick entertained Ryton, who provided a tough contest earlier in the season, at Greensfield on Saturday with a sodden pitch but a fair day on the cards.

An early penalty opportunity for Alnwick was converted well by kicker Joe Weddell, who slotted it easily from the Ryton 10-metre line in the first five minutes.

Following Ryton pressure as the home side gave away penalties, Alnwick cleared their lines and were then awarded a penalty themselves and another attempt at the sticks was on target for Weddell.

There was a long injury interlude with the Ryton centre eventually leaving the field after some attention.

Alnwick won off-the-top line-out ball, the backs executed a dummy scissors pop orchestrated by Angus Todd, Ed Shell burst through some weak tackling and the Alnwick forwards gathered under the posts but there was a knock-on. Ryton failed to clear their lines and suffered a penalty, so the dominant Alnwick pack persuaded their captain to opt for the scrum.

Another penalty and Alnwick again opted for the scrum and walked Ryton back over their line with ruthless efficiency for number eight Tom Hall to touch down – Weddell pushed his conversion slightly wide.

Rather than kick for territory, Ryton seemed determined to run out of their own half and Alnwick defended well to snuff out the advances in the middle of the field. This would prove to be poor tactics by Ryton who, in the heavy conditions, didn’t really get into the Alnwick 22 area with any good attacking positions.

An Alnwick line-out was crisp with quick ball out to Ed Shell. This time the pass was good and the move was taken on by Gordon Smith’s apprentice for the day, Andrew Ord, who had a fine 60 minutes at openside. Ord was halted and Frank Hutchinson continued on his usual direct style of movement but was held up over the line.

The efficient Alnwick scrum on the five-metre line again walked Ryton back for another try for Hall, Weddell kicked the points just on half-time for an 18-0 lead.

Shortly after the kick-off Alnwick had a line-out on halfway. Good ball off the top was fizzed from Ord to Todd and onto Ed Shell who missed a passing opportunity to brother Andrew, and the attack then fizzled out after a knock-on.

From the scrum, Ryton managed to get a clearance kick away rather than run it, but this didn’t work well for them as with no chasing runners, the ball landed in Andrew Shell’s arms. He gathered on the Ryton 10-metre line and squirmed his way through some poor tackling to score under the posts, converted by Joe Weddell.

From an Alnwick clearing kick, Adam Alexander fly-hacked the loose ball that the Ryton cover failed to take and he and Weddell chased it like hunting bloodhounds. It seemed that Weddell was pushed off the ball on the try-line, for which a penalty try seemed certain. However, to settle all arguments, the flying second-row man Alexander clamped down on the loose ball to claim the try.

After 10 minutes in the same place, Ryton had a third line-out, which Alnwick stole and Ord box-kicked it away to safety, a clearance which should have been executed 10 minutes earlier. Ryton attacked from the line-out on halfway but Rich Ellis stole a great turnover, after he juggled with it the forwards took the ball on.

Alnwick picked and went twice for the ball to be fed back to Todd who cleared the lines but was felled with a late hit. Alnwick could have had a penalty where the ball landed but Todd reacted in playground fashion to the late charge and got himself a yellow card – 10 minutes’ rest – and Ryton a penalty. The visitors kicked three points.

An early engagement on the resultant scrum won Ryton a free-kick and the Alnwick scrum dominance was diminishing. The visitors took a quick tap but Gordon smith felled the runner with his chin, Frank Hutchinson knocked the next man back and Ryton lost ground. Simon Ord then added ferocity to the defence to keep Ryton reeling back.

But Alnwick spoilt this offensive spell of tackling by giving away a penalty again at the ruck.
It was reversed so Alnwick went to the corner but lost the line-out.

Ryton swept the ball across their back-line and won another penalty as Alnwick lost all discipline. This was again taken quickly by Ryton, their number 13 wriggled through and poor defence from Alnwick and had them back-peddling.

Ryton chipped through for Weddell to simply resort to kicking the ball out on the five-metre line.

Alnwick drove Ryton back but the ball got out to their centres, but strong Alnwick defence and limited attacking enterprise from Ryton kept them back.

Yet again the hand went out from the referee for Alnwick infringements and as Adam Alexander marked the kick-through by Ryton, the referee blasted the whistle for yet another Ryton penalty in front of the posts. They kicked for the corner, but the Alnwick defence with good line speed from the backs forced a penalty and clearance opportunity for Todd. The kick for touch was missed but good chasing kept the pressure on Ryton.

A Joe Weddell clearance was charged down only for Potts to collect the ricochet and secure possession.

Gray cleared the lines, well chased by Ed Shell. Ryton kicked it back straight to Potts who slotted a well-judged kick to the top corner. Potts chased down his man and the forwards piled in to win Alnwick a penalty near the Ryton line, Todd kicked for the corner, but the throw-in was squint.

After suffering a few bad injuries, the Ryton number seven left the field not be replaced with no one left on the bench.

Ryton bravely opted for the scrum and although good pressure was asserted again, Rich Ellis gave away a penalty. Ryton kicked and then their line-out was squint so it was an Alnwick scrum on halfway. Good quick ball, with Frank Hutchinson, onto Weddell who was pushed into touch.

Alnwick stole the line-out against the throw, taken on by Rich Ellis, then Ian Gray himself and then Ryton gave away a penalty under the posts. Quick thinking from Harry Sordy tapped the ball and passed to the runner Ian Gray who offloaded to the forwards who ended in a heap so the referee called a scrum. Alnwick won this easily and a copybook back-row move, number eight Tom Hall to Ian Gray, who dummied then offloaded to that man Andrew Shell, who made up for his earlier drop from a Ryton clearance kick, with a score in the corner, converted by Joe Weddell.

From the restart, Boothman gathered and pounded his way back upfield. Andrew Shell took it on passing to his brother Ed, who linked with Rich Ellis. He handed back to Ed Shell near the line to dot it down. Joe Weddell added the conversion right on the full-time whistle for a 48-3 victory to Alnwick.