DURHAM & NORTHUMBERLAND DIVISION ONE
ALNWICK thoroughly deserved their convincing win over host club Novos at Sutherland Park, writes Terry Owen-Smith.
They ran in eight tries through James Fernback, Frank Hutchinson, Gordon Smith, Ed Shell and Andy Shell, while James Bird added the goal points, with six conversions.
Novos failed to live up to their early promise, fading somewhat as the game progressed and it was only in the final minutes that they got over the Alnwick try-line to give a degree of respectability to their score-line.
Early Novos pressure saw them surge into an early lead when they got into the Alnwick 22 to catch the midfield defenders off-side, Lamb adding the penalty (3-0).
Play moved quickly from end to end, with the Novos three-quarters getting the ball quickly out along the line, a high tackle costing Alnwick points when Lamb slotted the penalty (6-0).
Alnwick stormed back from the restart, a crashing run through from Frank Hutchinson swept Novos back into their 22, where Alnwick took the line-out and put in a drive, with the ball shifting to Fernback to Smith out to Ellis, who linked up quickly with Fernback to go over for a try at the posts. Bird’s kick eased Alnwick into the lead (6-7).
Novos were driven back on the restart after they had gone over the ball at a ruck.
Alnwick took the penalty line-out ball but lost it at a maul.
Novos broke out, only to be brought back for a forward pass. Scrummaging hard, Alnwick won the ball back out along the three-quarters, where Potts made ground before putting Hutchinson through for a converted try (6-14).
Putting the restart ball directly into touch cost Novos ground when Alnwick took the centre-midfield scrum. Todd linked with O’Grady to get the three-quarters in line to stretch the Novos defence, the forwards driving maul ball up.
A Smith break was taken on by Fernback. Early ball was spun out to Potts, only for his attempted chip through to be knocked back.
Alnwick won this scrum and out went the ball to wing Andy Shell, whose run was halted just short of the home try-line. In came the forwards, who powered through for Smith to get the touchdown, Bird adding the goal points (6-21).
Following another Andy Shell run, prop Brown steamed into the Novos defence. Bird was then hauled down on the home five-metre line, failed to release the ball to give Novos a welcome clearance back to their 10-metre line.
Alnwick’s pressure built up with storming forward plays that saw them camped on the home five metre line.
Novos won scrum-ball but a lazy clearance from Ayre went straight to Andy Shell, who swept play across the pitch pulling the home backs wide, which saw Ed Shell round off the move with a converted try at the corner flag right at the end of the opening half (6-28).
With a comfortable lead, Alnwick continued to extend the Novos defence.
Bird was held up short of the try-line and Alnwick drove at the scrum, only to be penalised.
The Novos clearance took play back to their 10-metre line. Alnwick won the line-out ball and fed Todd then O’Grady. Quick passing saw Hutchinson break through a flat-footed defence for another try, Bird hitting the post with the attempted conversion (6-33).
Novos were reeling from the continuous pressure from the Alnwick forwards, who were supplying good, quick ball to the three-quarters, who were pulling the home defence first one way, then another, giving Alnwick advantage to camp on the home try-line, where a concerted drive-through resulted in a try, Bird adding the goal points (6-40).
Alnwick brought James Davidson on for Bird at full-back and took advantage of a poor restart drop-out from Novos, winning scrum-ball back for Ed Shell to break through on a 40-metre run to round the Novos defence for a converted try (6-47).
Alnwick lost possession in the Novos 22 after a bout of passing by the forwards finally saw Ward intercepted and race through for a try at the corner flag (11-47).
Alnwick came back hard on the restart, snatched the loose ball and worked it out along the backs, with Davidson coming in from full-back and finding Andy Shell, who sprinted over for an unconverted try (11-52).
Alnwick relaxed and this cost them points when they conceded a penalty inside their 22 area.
Novos ran a quick tap move which saw prop Graham plough his way over for a try, converted by Lamb (18-52).
Alnwick had a chance to add to their total when a storming break through was halted on the try-line.
An excellent team effort based on solid scrummaging to give Alnwick the sound platform to release their three-quarters.
Alnwick: J Bird, G Potts, Ed Shell, F Hutchinson A Shell, N O’Grady, A Todd, D Hamlin, H Sordy, P Brown, J Fernback, R Ellis, G Smith, A Robinson, T Hall, Aa Armstrong, J Davidson.
Saturday’s match at Greensfield is against Ponteland, kick-off 3pm.