Billingham 50-8 Alnwick RFC
Ouch! It’s is a very long time since Alnwick were on the wrong end of such a score-line and although there will be pain there should be no excuses or recriminations, because the truth is that on the day they were beaten by a very good, well-motivated and efficient Blliingham side operating at the top of their game.
Billingham were still smarting from their narrow defeat by Vale of Lune the previous week and further helped by a vociferous home crowd and the familiarity with the wide synthetic pitch, Alnwick unfortunately caught the backlash.
The morning’s heavy rain had eased to a calm, dull, greyness by the time Billingham got the game under way. Alnwick immediately found themselves under pressure as Billingham used the advantage from a knock-on to move the ball quickly. Billingham’s counter from an Alnwick clearance saw Alnwick penalised for not rolling away in the tackle and the kick gave the home side a line-out on Alnwick’s 22.
Alnwick were unprepared for the speed and accuracy with which Billingham’s three-quarters then used the width of the pitch to move play wide to the left where full-back Husband was up in the line to run in and score behind the posts. Evans added the conversion but at 7 – 0 with only 3 minutes gone there were ominous signs.
Helped by a penalty, Alnwick briefly got into a promising position before Bird made it 7-3 from a further penalty but within 2 minutes Billingham extended their lead.
From the re-start Alnwick were penalised for holding on and from a catch-and-drive at the ensuing line-out lock Whinn drove over with Evans making it 14 - 3.
Alnwick battled to get back into it during the next 10 minutes but despite some hustling drives from props Greer and Philipps things just kept going slightly awry as passes were knocked-on or missed their target.
With 30 minutes gone an Evans penalty made it 17 – 3 but they failed to capitalise on a further penalty when Bird rather mystifyingly received a yellow card, and the interval arrived without further score.
Two minutes into the second half No. 8 Dixon powered over for Billingham with Evans making it 24 – 3, but there was a glimmer of light for Alnwick when Calum Burn took a quick tap penalty and chased his own his grubber kick to score out on the right for 24 – 8 with the conversion missed.
That faint glimmer was nigh on extinguished when Alnwick were penalised for a high tackle and Billingham’s scrum option allowed scrum-half to pounce from close range, 29 -8 with Evans making it 31- 8.
Hamilton came close to scoring for Alnwick but, unusually for him, spilled the ball as he was about to score and Billingham began to turn the screw with a try from flanker Burns for 36-8 with Evans converting for 38 -8.
As the game drew towards the end Alnwick were fighting a continuous rear-guard action as they tried to plug the gaps which Billingham were exploiting but there was little they could do to stop Dixon’s second try as he blasted over from a 5mscrum for 43- 8 with the conversion missed.
The final try came from a 5mline-out where a forward drive drew in the defence giving the backs space to put winger Hopley over for 48 8 8. Evans finished the game as he started with his conversion.