Alnwick 33 West 23

By Dave Picken - March 1 2015
Alnwick 33 West 23 When is a maul not a maul? The general view after the game was that if the opposition are not contesting a maul then it isn't one. Regardless it's the ref's opinion which counts and as a result a last ditch penalty try for Alnwick robbed us a losing bonus point, which we had just about deserved and which may well become important in the next few weeks ...

We were trailing by just three points  and defending a rolling maul in their 22 when several Alnwick players broke off and trundled towards the try line unopposed.

Stu Waites, who had been standing off tackled the man with the ball, but referee Matt Astle bemused both sets of supporters by ruling that the maul had been intact and Waites had acted illegally.

The easy conversion gave the hosts a ten point winning margin with no time left for a restart.

A lightning start saw Alnwick score their first try after just two minutes -lively outside centre Ali Gray going over in the corner after his pack had turned the ball over on the West 22.

The home side were having most of the play, despite playing into the strong breeze, and they went further ahead with penalty from full back James Bird – the captain of the Newcastle Falcons Academy side.

We struggled for possession and had to wait until the 15th minute for the first refereeing decision in their favour.

It signalled some better play with Luke Mallinson breaking through the centre only for Eldon Myers to knock on.

Southern had the first opportunity for away points, but his penalty from fully 45 metres was just short.

Both sides were trying to play enterprising rugby in tricky conditions, and Myers was unlucky when he chased a Waites kick only to be penalised for tackling centre Frank Hutchinson without the ball. The Alnwick player had misjudged the bounce completely, and if Myers had gambled he would have been clean through.

The home backs were always a threat with their pace, but it was  Peter Youll who almost broke through with a strong run up the right wing but once again West’s handling let the down and the ball was knocked on.

Southern did reduce the arrears on the half hour when Alnwick second row Oli Sutheran was yellow carded for not releasing as West forced their way into the home 22.

However, we were unable to take advantage of his absence, and it was Alnwick who scored right on the break when winger Ben Foy went in at the left corner after Ali Gray had once again tore a hole in the visiting defence.

At 13-3 down at half time we faced the prospect of playing up the hill and into the breeze.

Our line-out was not functioning as it had done in the win over Driffield the previous week, and unusually we'd been shoved off several of our own balls in the scrum.

The reaction was to take the game to the hosts with Eldon Myers getting his second try for the club after 47 minutes.

West had probed first up the left then the right, and when Luke Mallinson was tackled in the right hand corner the ball was recycled left where Myers was able to pick up and go through a gap.

Southern reduced the arrears to just three points. The margin stayed the same and both he and Bird slotted penalties before a superb game changing try from Alnwick’s Peter Moralee.

It came as we attacked up the right wing. A kick through from Ryan Painter bounced up invitingly for attackers Zac Southern and Luke Mallinson, but it was Moralee who reacted first to grab the ball and set off on a 60 metre burst.

He rounded Stu Waites before outpacing the covering defence of Peter Youll and Scott Butcher.

It was a bitter blow. However, we continued to fight and were boosted when prop Ben Bootham was yellow carded for infringing at the scrum.

This time West did manage to score with a superb long range penalty into the wind from Southern putting the visitors just one score behind.

Southern then put the sides level after Mallinson had broken up the right wing. The West forwards pressed on the home line and as the defenders were sucked in the ball went left where second row Owen Bennett was waiting to time his pass to send Southern in for the try.

Alnwick took just two minutes to regain the lead when we were penalised at the breakdown just outside the 22.

And it looked as though the score would remain that way until that penalty try.

We now have just two home games left – against Pocklington and Percy Park – and they may well decide the course of our season.

Alnwick: James Bird, Ben Foy, Ali Gray, Frank Hutchinson, Rory Mallaburn, Callum Burn, Peter Moralee, Richard Elliott, Harry Sordy, Been Boothman , Josh Burgess, Oli Sutheran, Matt Grey, James Hamilton, Ben Gothorp.

Reps (all used) James Grey, Rob Thompson, Iain Gray.

Tries: A Gray, Foy, Moralee, pen. try.

Cons: Bird (2)

Pens: Bird (3)

Yellow: Sutheran, Boothman.


West: Zac Southern, Scott Butcher, Eldon Myers, Peter Youll, Luke Mallinson, Stu Waites, Ryan Painter, Ross Wood, Andrew Rollins, Adam Coates, Owen Bennett, Joe Rafferty, Jay Corbett, Dan Boatman (c), Sam Miller.

Reps(all used): Jack Angus, Michael Hogan, Kyle Jamieson

Tries: Myers, Southern.

Cons: Southern (2)

Pens: Southern (3)


Referee: Matt Astle (Northumberland)


Alnwick 33 West 23
Official West Hartlepool RFC (IP Logged)
01/03/2015 12:12
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Re: Alnwick 33 West 23
Denny Dixon (IP Logged)
02/03/2015 03:59
Reckon you are right about a "maul" as described must be "truck and trailer" however watched many games this season on the box where it seems this has been forgotten that it is illegal but nothing to be done now. Sounds a close contest as would be expected for two sides needing the points. Seems the guys put in a good effort although being pushed in the scrum and line out not working is a concern. I remember the Ilkley game where we had the superiority in the first half and then it completely changed in the second!!! Two big home games but we MUST sneak an away win too!! Bad luck WEST

Re: Alnwick 33 West 23
02/03/2015 14:10
Sounds like we put plenty of effort in without any reward. If we keep on doing that for 80 minutes every game we will get our rewards in the end

Re: Alnwick 33 West 23
Ref (IP Logged)
02/03/2015 23:33
With regards the maul, many refs get this wrong, but at the same time it can be confusing for all to understand what the situation is.

If a maul exists and the attacking side break away with the ball, and no opponents attached, then it is obstruction (truck and trailer), and the defence cannot be penalised for maul offences.

If the defence intentionally break from the maul, the maul still exists and the defenders can be penalised for any maul offence.

Not being at the game on Saturday I cant comment on what the ref did. His decision can only be judged on whether or not he applied the 2 aspects above correctly.

Hope this helps.

Re: Alnwick 33 West 23
Denny Dixon (IP Logged)
03/03/2015 03:34
Seems sensible enough rules to me. However don't believe any side would intentionally break away from the maul but it would be obvious if they did!!! Thanks for info!!

Re: Alnwick 33 West 23
Dave Picken (IP Logged)
03/03/2015 15:09
The general feeling of both Alnwick and ourselves was that you described exactly what we felt happened i.e

"If a maul exists and the attacking side break away with the ball, and no opponents attached, then it is obstruction (truck and trailer), and the defence cannot be penalised for maul offences. "

Stu and Ryan were in their proper half back positions and went to tackle the player in the breakaway trio who had the ball.

It has to be said that this is not meant as ref bashing as he had a good game and,in any case, was allowing play to go on after awarding Alnwick a penalty at the proper maul.

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