1st XV - won 33 - 0 against Horden and also managed that very important bonus point. Match report thanks to Walter Ritchie.
"They think it's all over”, well not quite - a point i.e. 4 tries or a losing bonus against Alnwick on Saturday will see us retain our place in the league. Saturday saw us entertain Horden, sadly leaving our league, but who, with 2 bus-loads of supporters via the Coxlodge Welfare club for lunch made their presence felt and ensured that Northern were not in for an easy ride. The plan was to get a win with the 4 try bonus point and this was achieved. Although the Horden pack were heavier Northern disrupted their put in at the scrum and Tom McCullough scored a try after just 4 minutes which Donal Collins improved. This settled the natural nerves and in difficult windy conditions it was no surprise with good handling Dom Fawcett - after a welcome return from injury- chipped ahead, gathered and scored under the posts, again improved by Donal Collins. Horden however caused problems at the line-outs, which were frequent, and Northern had to depend on scraps for opportunities and from a midfield turn over Alex Clark sped away. With good support play the ball travelled through various hands until Tom McCullough scored his second try.
Now facing the elements - not always a disadvantage - Northern's fitness began to tell and again good handling allowed Paddy Fisher to score, which again Donal Collins improved. With the bonus point in the bag and with next week’s game in mind, plus the odd injury, Northern's play stuttered and errors occurred until Donal Collins nipped though by the posts which he improved to make the final score 33-0. A very satisfactory outcome although the loss of Rob Kinnell to a shoulder injury for the season cast a cloud on the result. As I said at the beginning of this report we need at least a point next weekend to be absolutely sure of our place in the league and I am certain all support will be very welcome. Maybe a trip round Alnwick Gardens in the morning then to the match. Perfect!!
1st XV - drew 27 - 27 away against Alnwick and also managed that very important point to ensure league safety. Match report thanks to Walter Ritchie.
"They think it's all over - well it is now.” In possibly their best performance of the season Northern produced the goods against an excellent Alnwick side and gained the points needed for league survival no matter what happened at Bradford. Your correspondent was in constant touch with Bradford to find they had scored 4 tries and were only losing by 3 points with only 5 minutes to go!
Alnwick play a fast, keep-the-ball-in-hand game certainly suited to the hard ground conditions which Northern had to react to .Our tackling in these circumstances was excellent with both centres and the back row never giving an inch.
Alnwick started strongly running the ball from all over the park and scored a penalty try, ironically, after we were penalised 3 times in a scrum on our line. Northern equalised when, from a controlled kick and vigorous chase, James Crowther scored under the posts and the scores were level. Sadly James, in scoring, turned his ankle and took no further part in the game and was replaced by Lester Bell. Alnwick regained the lead when winger Burn seemed to burst through every Northern tackle to score under the posts. Again the very hard ground caused flanker James Hamer to leave the pitch when also suffered a turned ankle to be replaced by Laurie Troke which meant a reshuffle in the pack. Northern, with determined tackling and astute grubber kicking, caused Alnwick problems - they transgressed and the ever reliable Donal Collins knocked over the penalty. Half time 14-10 to Alnwick.
With the slope and a slight breeze in their favour Northern asserted pressure and Lester Bell noting a space behind the Alnwick defence chipped ahead gathered and scored in the corner leaving Donal Collins the "easy task" of improving which he did with aplomb! Alnwick came roaring back and with good handling scored under the posts to regain the lead. A penalty kick to the corner was maximised when Sam Wilson was driven over and Northern took the lead again. Alnwick replied with a penalty only for Donal Collins again to regain the lead with another fine kick. With time running out Northern were caught off side and with the resulting penalty scores were again level.
On the final whistle Northern were able to summon up enough energy to celebrate a fine draw against a determined team. Now we can all relax and enjoy the summer.
Disasters only happen infrequently but Northern experienced two within 9 hours when, after been comprehensively beaten 62-0, the bus on the return journey broke down and it took 4 hours for a replacement bus to arrive. We didn’t have to remember to re-adjust our watches it happened while we were awake!!!
Ilkley, pressing hard for promotion and keen to avenge the defeat we inflicted on them, started with a bang and were soon 12 points up. Northern weakened by injuries and unavailability tried hard and held their own in the tight and with some success in the line-out due to the excellent play by Tom McColough. However in the loose and tackle area Ilkley controlled the ball and the running lines and excellent passing of their very quick backs exposed gaps in the Northern defence allowing them to score at random. Sad to watch but one had to applaud Ilkley’s skills which the large crowd thoroughly enjoyed .Northern never gave up and the tackle count was immense. With Easter next weekend we have a chance to regroup and go all out to get maximum points against Horden at home and at our old friends Alnwick on April 18.This will ensure we retain our place in the league which is the minimum requirement my namesake at HQ would say of a club with Northern’s standing!!!
1st XV had an excellent win 27 - 24 against Rochdale. An outstanding, exciting game of rugby. Match report thanks to Walter Ritchie.
What a pulsating finish the spectators witnessed at Northern when, well into injury time, James Crowther scored the winning try converted by Donal Collins to beat the high flying Rochdale 27-24.The added bonus point for scoring 4 tries is very welcome especially with our fellow relegation candidates also winning. The relegation battle now looks to continue until the last game of the season when we are away to Alnwick! Northern opened on the attack and went ahead with an unconverted try by Owen Clemett after a spectacular kicking and passing movement. Although Rochdale kicked a penalty Northern replied with one of their own from Shane Wright. With both sides willing to play an open game Rochdale kicked 2 further penalties. At this stage Rochdale backs handled with confidence and it was no surprise when they went further ahead with an unconverted try to lead 14-8 at half time.
Play in the second half, at times, was quite frenetic with handling errors aplenty but a dramatic burst by Alex Clarkput in Paddy Harper for a try which was converted by Shane Wright. From the kick off Northern lost concentration and lost the ball allowing Rochdale to score. Now behind again Northern responded as if their lives depended on it. After another excellent run by Alex Clark the ball was recycled several times before Paddy Fisher crashed over in the corner. Inexplicably with time almost up Northern somehow failed to control a ball going into touch and Rochdale scored a very soft try to regain the lead. Somehow Northern regained the ball from the kick off and pressed and pressed for a winning score. Unfortunately the ball was dropped and Rochdale broke clear and even a losing bonus looked in jeopardy. However Rochdale knocked on and their scrum half was yellow carded. Northern, with nothing to lose, ran the ball. Rochdale again transgressed, a penalty kick to the corner resulted and Northern, not panicking, controlled the ball until the winning try was scored by James Crowther. All spectators including those from Rochdale applauded the teams off after witnessing a truly great game of rugby. Unfortunately skipper Phil Ludford was concussed during the final assault and I am happy to report that he is ok but will miss the rest of the season.
1st XV lost away to league leaders Sheffield. . Match report thanks to Walter Ritchie.
On the way to Sheffield the 10 “alikadoos” enjoyed a Fortnum and Mason feast (as promised!!) supplied by Norman Lancaster and our latest recruit Richard Dalziel a friend of "Cookies" who in addition to providing the food and wine also entertained the lads on the return journey with one or new songs.
On a heavily sanded pitch and with a spate of yellow cards during the game all that was needed was the tannoy to blast out the songs from the Wizard of Oz!! However the wizard was the aging but extremely talented Sheffield fly half who conducted the proceedings to put Sheffield on the front foot. Northern got off to a poor start and were soon 7 points and a man down (yellow card). Although, with wind helping, Northern could not establish any continuity the tight was ok but in the lineout we struggled against their 6ft 10inch lock. Due to repeatedly falling off tackles Sheffield went further ahead with another converted try. Northern finally replied when Sam Wilson went over and Donal Collins converted .Sadly he then missed a penalty and an attempted drop goal. Sheffield reacted vigorously and with speedy attacks stepped on the gas and scored three tries, two of which were converted. To be fair to Northern the side was disrupted with a spate of injuries to Tom McCullough, Paddy Harper, Owen Clemett and even Paddy Fisher as a replacement. Northern did play better like last week against the wind but sadly every mistake resulted in Sheffield breaking clear and scoring virtually unopposed. Sheffield now suffering a spate of yellow cards wilted and Northern with a penalty try and a try from our new recruit Lester Bell, hopefully one of many in the future, went all out to get that 4-try bonus point. Sadly we lost the ball and with every player up in attack we conceded again to lose 21 - 47.
Not really a true reflection of the game and on the positive side it is the only the second time this season Sheffield have conceded 3 tries. It was great to see two old stalwarts now members of Sheffield namely Dave Watson and Alan Broomhead, who as a former junior coach presented a first team tie to one of his players on his first team debut."