Harrogate vs Alnwick
By Peter Kitching
Although this was an old fashioned, low scoring tight game, the result was in doubt till the end.
Harrogate were unable to field a full strength side and the problem was compounded by an early head injury to inside centre, Sam Fox which ended his game. The big Alnwick team had the edge throughout and deservedly won.
After even early exchanges, Fox’s injury led to a long delay. Fortunately, he recovered consciousness but could take no further part in the game. A Harrogate line-out offence was then penalised and Alnwick No8, Jim Bird kicked the goal. More Harrogate attacks followed and, eventually, the pressure forced Alnwick to concede a penalty. Jonny Coser won the subsequent attacking line-out and a well controlled driving maul ended with a scrum half, Danny Matthews try, converted by Cail Cookland.
More Harrogate pressure followed a powerful James Millington break but a knock-on ended the move. Alnwick won scrum ball and the ball was quickly spread to centre, Rob Cuthbert whose dummy took him past the first attempted tackle and he ran powerfully till a supporting player knocked on. The Harrogate scrum was under pressure throughout the match and, though they had the superior line-out, they consistently failed to control loose ball. The next score came from an Alnwick driving maul with prop, Alan Phillips driving over to make the score 7-8. From the restart, Harrogate winger, Andrew Lawson took a great high ball in midfield and broke strongly but a last ditch tackle ended the half.
The opening second half exchanges remained even with neither side able to break committed defences. Strong Lawson running consistently tested Alnwick and an Oli Rosillo counter attack from deep was carried on by more Harrogate pressure. This led to a “dust up” and the referee issuing a warning to 2 outstanding forwards---Harrogate’s Sam Brady and Alnwick’s James Hamilton. More Harrogate attacks followed and, when Alnwick went offside, Cookland’s penalty put Harrogate 10-8 ahead.
Harrogate handling mistakes squandered further attacking opportunities and Alnwick gratefully seized on the ball to counter attack. Brady stole Alnwick line-out ball and Aarin Yorke burst through the cover but his support lost possession. A thumping Steve Maycock tackle ended an Alnwick forward drive and, though the pressure was mounting, Harrogate’s defence seemed to be coping. However, they failed to control defensive line-out ball and Alnwick’s Hamilton picked up, drove strongly and gave a scoring pass to Bird. Alnwick’s defence was severely tested by Harrogate attacks but they held out for a well deserved narrow win
Harrogate: Rosillo, Lawson, Barnard, Fox, Bass, Cookland, Matthews, Harris, Yorke, Maycock, Brady, Patrick, Millington, G Coser, J Coser. Subs:-T Young, Edes, Hampson,
Alnwick: Morales, Holmes, Cuthbert, Mallaburn, Atkinson, C Burn, J Burn, Phillips, H Burn, Greer, Gray, J Young, Courty, Hamilton, Bird. Subs:- Smith, Hutchinson, Gothorp
Referee: Jack Le Feuvre (Northern)
Match report by Bill Barrack