In truth we were well beaten, failing to break down a resolute Alnwick defence despite attacking for long spells and mistakes would prove costly at crucial times. The visitors, on the other hand, took their chances well and when they scored their second try following a 20 minute onslaught at the other end you it reflected perfectly how the game had gone.
An early try for flanker James Hamilton got Alnwick going after a clearance kick was charged down and we failed to clean up the loose ball. The boot of James Bird added the conversion together with a penalty moments later for a 10-0 lead with just 11 minutes played.
We lost Sam Miler to a nasty looking ankle injury after he surged for the right corner and then shortly afterwards Greg Edwards also left the field after a blow to the face – frustratingly occurring a few phases after the ball went into touch but the linesman’s flag wasn’t noticed until after Greg’s injury.
Reshuffles in the forwards and backs weren’t the only problems the early replacements caused, they also left us short of fresh legs when we could have done with them in the second half.
Anth Carr did get over the line in first time injury time after another lengthy period of pressure in the visitor’s 22. Gav Painter missed the conversion after some confusion over whether a charge down attempt had started too early but referee Harrison seemed happy and play went on.
With the second half came our period of ascendency but crucially it brought no points. Phase after phase we battered away but the Alnwick defence was up to the task. In and around the rucks they drove us backwards in the tackle and frustrated us with ferocious competiveness at the breakdown. In virtually their first visit into our half after the break Painter miscued a kick and wing Peter Moralee looked to be away up the touchline only for his chip ahead to go straight out of play. Alnwick weren’t to be denied though as they stole the lineout and when the ball was eventually moved left a few phases later, Bird was on hand to finish off the score and add the conversion.
It was a cruel blow and, even with 15 minutes to go, one we were never going to recover from. We continued to battle away without reward but Alnwick’s attack grew in confidence and Moralee got their third try 5 minutes from time when he showed tremendous pace to be first to a well-judged grubber kick.
The result sees us drop to third place but with a game in hand on Penrith, now in second, after last week’s postponement at Durham City. That game will be played next week and with five games to go and only one of those at Brinkburn against league leaders Pocklington it looks like being an uphill struggle to the finish.
West: Southern, Youll, Checksfield, Edwards, Mallinson, G Painter, Sidle, Coates, Rollins, Carr, Bunter, Miller, Maddison, Boatman, Miller.
Reps: Wood, Rafferty, Hilditch
Alnwick: Bird, Moralee, Cuthbert, Hutchinson, Mallaburn, Warcup, Ord, Phillips, H Burn, D Smith, Grey, Sutheran, G Smith, Hamilton, Ellis.
Reps: Clayton, Gothorp, J Burn
Tries: Hamilton, Bird, Moralee
Cons: Bird 2
Referee: Lewis Harrison [Durham Society]