Blyth 16 Alnwick 20
Durham & Northumberland Division One
Blyth proved to be a harder outfit than Alnwick had expected, particularly in the opening half when the home team hit the deck running, taking the game strongly into Alnwick territory.
Alnwick’s performance was patchy and not to the crisp standards of last season.
Early Blyth pressure saw Alnwick penalised for handling at a ruck, Sutherland striking home a penalty to push the home team into the lead (3-0).
Alnwick surged back from a driving maul and secured good line-out ball on the Blyth 22 line, out to Angus Todd and Nathan O’Grady. A quick pass found Frank Hutchinson, whose angled run took him through the home defence for a try with Stewart Bremner adding the conversion points to edge Alnwick into the lead (3-7).
Following the restart, Alnwick lost the ball in a midfield play with Blyth outside-half Sutherland hammering the ball deep into the Alnwick 22, where Olly Sutheran won line-out ball and found O’Grady, who sliced through to take play to the centre line where he ran out of support – the Alnwick forwards came up only to concede a penalty – this was kicked deep to pressure Alnwick inside their 22 area.
Berwick won good line-out ball from Turnbull, back to Clark who set up Sutherland. A well-struck drop-goal was the result to bring the home club back to within a point (6-7).
Alnwick roared back, with a positive attack to force their way into the Blyth 22 and gain another penalty against Blyth for offside. Stewart Bremner added the goal points (6-10).
Blyth came back hard with some good forcing play by their forwards and applied attack after attack against the Alnwick defence. A scything break by McKeown in the centre saw him slice through the Alnwick midfield to touch down under the posts for a converted try (13-10).
The Alnwick forwards followed up the restart ball, catching Davie in possession and robbing him of the ball to catch the home centres well offside. Stewart Bremner levelled the scores right at the end of the opening half (13-13).
From the restart, Alnwick forced Blyth back deep into their half, but good ball was not used by the three-quarters.
Both teams were guilty of some poor kicking decisions with the ball drifting too often into the hands of the opposition.
Alnwick won good ball for their three-quarters – Ali Gray made a cracking break to threaten the Blyth try-line but he was held – the ball was pulled back from a maul out to Stewart Bremner who crashed through for a conclusive try, also adding the goal points (13-20).
Blyth came back but too often kicked the ball away instead of using their backs and running play wide – though they did gain three points from another drop-goal from Sutherland which brought the team within touching distance of a winning position.
Team: S Bremner, A Shell, F Hutchinson, A Gray, Ed Shell, N O’Grady, A Todd, D Hamblin S Allen, S Bremner, R Ellis, O Sutheran, G Smith, C Davies, J Kelly, T Hall, Aa Armstrong.
Saturday’s league match against Ponteland is at Greensfield, kick-off 3pm.