DURHAM & NORTHUMBERLAND, DIVISION ONE
ALNWICK continued their winning streak when they travelled to play Guisborough in the first match between the clubs. After a hard-fought game, the club came out winners by the margin of two goals, one try and three penalties to the home side’s one goal, one try, and two penalties.
Alnwick were a much-changed selection in the forwards with four not available. However, their replacements put in a dogged performance against the Guisborough heavyweight pack and finished the game in better shape.
When Alnwick moved the ball out along the three-quarters and brought their pacey wings into play, they had Guisborough stretched.
Guisborough made a hash of the kick-off, failed to gather cleanly and Alnwick drove in. Gray broke away and slipped the ball out to Bird onto Mould whose powerful angled run took him through before slipping the ball out to Potts who touched down near the corner flag. (0-5).
Guisborough returned with a surging forward drive to pin Alnwick back into their 22 area. Two drives for the try-line were held up and a final thrust saw wing Suthers squeeze in for the equalising try in the corner (5-5).
Guisborough went ahead following a raking kick from Edwards that saw the home team hammer away at the Alnwick defence.
A Guisborough penalty line-out saw Alnwick secure ball but in the resultant midfield play they were penalised for not releasing the ball after the tackle. Clark goaled the points to put Guisborough into the lead (8-5).
Alnwick again were guilty of a defensive ruck offence with Clark punishing them with a penalty goal to edge Guisborough further ahead (11-5).
Alnwick gained a scrum following the restart drop-out after Guisborough centre Motson had knocked on. Quick ball was spun out by Gray to O’Gray and out to Shell who burst away from the home cover on a defence-splitting mazy run to finish off a superb piece of play with a try at the post to give Bird an easy conversion and to restore Alnwick’s lead (11-12).
Alnwick went further ahead when, following a good clearance from Davidson, the Guisborough back-row were caught offside at ruck after piling in to prevent early release of the ball. Bird added the penalty points right at the end of the first half.
Guisborough powered through from the restart. Scrum-half Rose broke wide, slipping through a break in the cover. A try was on but his pass was well forward with a two-man overlap in hand and the chance was lost.
Alnwick won the scrum on their five-metre line and knocked on to give Guisborough the advantage, which scrum-half Rose blew when he was penalised.
Alnwick cleared deep. Guisborough gave away another penalty to find Alnwick sitting on the home 22 line, with a line-out to follow. The ball was moved quickly across the three-quarters and spread the opposition wide to see Bird go through for the try and also add the conversion points (11-22).
Alnwick brought on Mather, Sordy and Dave Smith.
Guisborough were infringing too often and paid the price when Bird goaled the penalty after their whole back-line were caught offside trying to stop an Alnwick three-quarter move.
Alnwick were forced to defend their try-line. Sordy was sin-binned for preventing release of the ball.
Advantage very much now with the Guisborough pack. Scrum ball and a powerful drive saw full-back Pope touch down. Clark added the conversion points (18-25).
A long drop-out restart ball took play into the Alnwick half. The Guisborough backs went wide but could not break the Alnwick defence, a break by Mather, Hutchinson and Davidson led to a surging play to pressure the Guisborough cover, again they gave away a penalty, again Bird punished the home team with his third penalty (18-28).
Alnwick powered their way back into the Guisborough 22 area, took line-out ball and in a surge to the posts David Smith dropped the ball.
Alnwick worked hard and thoroughly deserved their win points that see them head the league table.
Alnwick: J Bird, A Shell, J Davidson, F Hutchinson, G Potts, N O’Gray, I Gray, D Hamblin, J Cowan, M Milburn, A Armstrong, C Mould, G Smith, C Davies, C Blakey, N Mather, H Sordy, D Smith.
Saturday, v Ryton, ko 3pm.