Positives in league defeat as Alnwick lose on road at Penrith

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Penrith 24-5 Alnwick RFC

Alnwick travelled to Penrith last Saturday for their first away game of the season with a number of regulars absent from the team.

Missing, due to injury or other commitments were Gothorp, Burn (Callum), Bird, Phillips, law and Ellis. Penrith, on the other hand, were able to put out the same team which impressively had run in five tries against opponents Cleckheaton the week before.

With Blencathra and other Lake District mountains as a backdrop there can be fewer more pleasant places to watch or play rugby than Winters Park, however, Alnwick had little time for such thoughts as the home side took an early lead.

The visitors brought down a rolling maul after three minutes giving referee Castles no option than to award a penalty try. No conversion necessary this season, Alnwick now 7-0 behind. After the restart, a probing kick by standoff Warcup set Alnwick up for a maul which made good ground before the move breaking down as the ball was released to the centres to knock on.

The Alnwick lineout was operating smoothly with work done on the training pitch paying dividends after last week’s problems. An offside by the Penrith scrum half gave Warcup the chance of three points but he hit the post as he was to do later in the game.

A heavy shower made handling difficult, the flow of the game suffering from a number of knock ons. Halfway through the half. Southeran suffered a cut to the forehead which necessitated Andrew Ord joining the fray.

On 38 minutes, Alnwick were unfortunately penalised for not rolling away from the tackle and Penrith accepted the three points 10-0.

Alnwick responded with lovely movement of the ball across the field in both directions before a Moralee punt forced a lineout on the Penrith 22 only for the referee to blow for half time.

In the second half Alnwick started the sharper team with Ord now moving the ball more quickly from the base of the scrum and ruck. James Grey made a welcome return to the team at loose head replacing Smith who was having a very good game.

The visitors were now playing where they needed to be, in the Penrith half. Unfortunately, after Clayton was penalised for kicking the ball out of the ruck, being offside and breaking numerous other laws of the game, Penrith were to increase their lead with another rolling maul which Alnwick were unable to halt. 0-17.

The home team gradually nullified Alnwick’s pressure and began to enjoy too much possession, a measure of their confidence being that they opted to kick for a lineout after being given a penalty in front of their posts. Somewhat controversially, referee Castles awarded the home side another penalty try when Davies got in the way of a pass. 0-24.

Alnwick rang the changes in an attempt to make something happen and a consolation try came towards the close when a typical Cuthbert break saw Mallaburn backing up to touch down in the corner. However as the referee blew the final whistle Alnwick were to rue their lack of penetration over the 80 minutes. Final score 5-24

Despite the defeat, Alnwick can take a number of positives away from this game. Their lineout was much improved, their scrummaging matched that of their opponents and their tackling was impressive. Davies and Courty in the back row and Young and Southeran in the second row are forging useful partnerships.

Courty, in particular, is becoming increasingly influential in the game this season.

Next opponents at Greensfield this coming Saturday are Bradford and Bingley who lost heavily to Cleckheaton in their last game. The sponsor for this game will be M G Courty. The 2nds are away to Blaydon and the 3rds at home to Morpeth Edwardians.