Alnwick 12-33 Preston Grasshoppers
The long trip to Alnwick was arguably Hoppers’ most important remaining game since a victory would keep promotion hopes alive and avenge their only home defeat of this campaign. But Alnwick were intent on achieving the double and play in the initial 10 minutes was all in Hoppers’ half and only resolute defence prevented a home score.
A penalty at last relieved the pressure and a run from Jacob Browne took the action into the home 22 for the first time. The away pack were beginning to dominate in the tight and on 16 minutes a 5-metre line out drive brought a try for Toby Harrison converted by Ben Pearson.
Minutes later, more forward pressure resulted in a yellow card for home No 8 Gothorpe and Hoppers took immediate advantage as Lamprey was shunted over the line for a converted try.
Alnwick enjoyed some possession but the defence held and, after more forward pressure and some good handling, Harrison was in again and Pearson’s kick was good.
Now well ahead, Hoppers seemed to lose concentration and some indifferent tackling saw home scrum half Hugh Todd touch down and Evan Moir’s conversion kept his side in the game at 7-21 at the break.
Alnwick again started strongly, but a strong break from Harrison Moulding from a line out on halfway and intelligent support running from Sam Stott saw the centre in under the posts for the bonus point try and the kick was good.
Alnwick refused to roll over and, with the action very physical, both sides were forced into changes due to injury leading to uncontested scrums. However, another forward drive allowed Harrison to complete his hat trick but the last word went to Alnwick as in a final attack, centre Robson scored in the corner to make the final score 33-12 to Hoppers.
News then came through that third-placed Blackburn had lost at Lymm, confirming Hoppers’ promotion and celebrations duly ensued before they left the field!
Report by Ken Moore, photo by Rod Murray