1st XV 7-11 Alnwick

Northumberland Senior Cup Final;

The first aspect that needs to be covered is that this Cup final, was a credit to both sides and match officials providing such an exciting match, intensely competitive, yet played in such a good spirit.

The sides, having already met on two previous occasions this season with Alnwick being victors, albeit by the narrowest of margins. Often when you look forward to the Cup final and another match between the close rivals the match itself fails to live up to the promise, however, this game gave the spectator everything and if not a little more.

The match hosted by Novos was played on a bright spring afternoon with a strong wind blowing directly downfield. The conditions played a significant part in the match itself.

Alnwick took advantage of the elements in the first half and took the lead when full back Bird taking full advantage of the wind converted a long-range penalty.

Now Morpeth's set piece was particularly sound. The lineout work of Hill, Campbell, Craigs and Dawson, coupled with set scrum power of Moody and Carmichael kept Alnwick at bay. They seemed content to recycle possession against a well-organized Morpeth defence, which did not bring any worthwhile result. It was basically ineffective.

In a match where the wind was so strong it could well be argued that neither side made full use of the elements, a fact that materialized as the match developed.

Nevertheless, Bird again was successful from distance to make the score 6-0 after 20 minutes.

Shortly before half time Morpeth patiently worked their way up field and created a scoring overlap which was spoilt by the indecision and an infringement, which made the half time score 6-0 Alnwick who hadn't created a try scoring opportunity.

6-0 at halftime represented a good Morpeth performance, particularly by the pack who did play outstandingly well.

The second half almost mirrored the first, with this time Alnwick showing patience, organization and resilience, with Morpeth unable to secure enough good possession to enable them to dictate territory. That said when those opportunities arose they were not taken.

Then Alnwick's patience ran out when a cross field run and then attempting to force the play, Ward, intercepted, ran 40 yards, to touch down for yet another try by the outstanding wingman. Ball converted well, not the easiest kick considering the conditions.

Morpeth were leading 7-6 with some 28 minutes still to play, this was a tall order now for this Alnwick side, now minus the fulcrum of their defence, given injuries to both full back and wing.

Apart from a sporadic passage of play when Morpeth applied pressure inside the Alnwick 22 metre area, Alnwick dug deep, with a marauding back row, patience and tenacity in keeping possession, starving Morpeth of any continuity, although Ball was just short with a long-distance effort.

The game changed after 72 minutes.

Alnwick had taken play on or around the Morpeth 22, when they conceded a scrum, which was safely won. From that possession Morpeth moved the ball wider to give an easier clearing kick, when this was not completed Alnwick's excellent defence disrupted, turned the ball over into their possession before sprinting away to score in the corner. The aspect of moving the ball wider, then leaves Morpeth and the play more vulnerable and that was exactly what happened. Given the factors of wind the exact accuracy of the clearing kick was not as important as getting it down there and asking Alnwick the question-score from here? Nevertheless, credit absolutely to Alnwick for their spirit and ability to win the game, yet Morpeth would undoubtedly feel they had in fact lost the game.

That said the commitment of all concerned, from coaches, players and even the President! are only to be admired and Morpeth can learn from this, and take heart from the narrowest of defeats.