Clinical Alnwick take their chances to record victory

Alnwick 29 Ponteland 7 Durham and Northumberland, Division One

PONTELAND had enough ball and territory, but Alnwick’s finishing was clinical and proved the difference on the day.

It was a real family occasion for the visitors as James Mullins at hooker played his first game for the first XV, joining his older brother Michael at fly half, and Pete Newbigin made his first start at scrum-half, joining his older brother Will, at full-back.

Playing into a strong wind, Pont chose to run the first ball. A dropped pass allowed Alnwick to gain a penalty and lead 3-0 after two minutes.

A quick riposte saw Moller go on a good run, with forwards in support. A penalty put Pont into the Alnwick corner but a spilt line-out ball ended the pressure.

The game was cut and thrust as both Alnwick and Ponteland attacked with pace, but the away side were let down by self-inflicted mistakes by dropping passes or off-loading into space.

With 30 minutes on the clock, an Alnwick centre went on a strong run in broken play and several missed tackles allowed him to score (8-0).

Ponteland drove forward from the kick-off and a line-out 20 metres out saw them drive Alnwick towards their own line. With three metres to go, Alnwick appeared to collapse the drive, but the referee awarded a scrum.

The home side used the strong wind to pin back Ponteland and another run from their centre saw play break down as the ball appeared to be knocked on, only for play to continue as an Alnwick player scooped up the ball to score a converted try.

From the kick-off, an excellent chase by Kelly ensured Pont retained the ball and several forwards picked and drove, resulting in Kelly going over the line.

The ref was unsighted and gave a held-up decision, so ending the first half.

The visitors started the second half badly when a pass was intercepted and Alnwick took full advantage to increase their lead to 22-0.

The next 30 minutes were played completely in the hosts’ half but resolute defending kept out Pont.

A further two line-out drives again shunted Alnwick towards their line, but they could not break through and the referee was in no mood to award a penalty try.

With the first Alnwick break-out into Pont’s half, a mix-up among the backs allowed a home player to gather the ball to score (29-0).

With Pete Maughan pulling the strings from scrum-half, Ponteland moved the ball forward and a penalty for a high tackle saw them spin it wide with Phil Mundy diving over for a try.

Michael Mullins made it 29-7 with the conversion.

In the final few minutes, Alnwick’s scrum-half got a yellow card and Maughan skipped down the touchline and looked clear to score but excellent defending kept him out. The last play saw an Alnwick player burst free only to be hit by a Mundy exocet tackle.