Sat. 11th April 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Horden II. Candy League 1 - away.
A bright, sunny afternoon at Horden with the usual strong wind blowing downhill towards the sea was the backdrop to an entertaining last league game for the Wanderers. With just 15 players on the pitch including Connor Chamberlain in a non-tackling role due to a shoulder injury and coach Alan Belford on the bench, Northern started the game playing up the slope into the wind with the intention of playing open, 15 man rugby. Within 3 minutes a fine kick and chase saw centre Dan Kerr almost score but an unkind bounce just before the line resulted in a knock on. Undeterred, Northern continued to press and from a 5 metre line out lock Finn Healy scored an unconverted try out wide. Horden then came back and from an attacking scrum in the 22 after Northern knocked on the re-start, their number 8 showed good pace to pick up and drive blind, passing on for the support player to touch down for a converted try on 9 minutes. Horden scored a converted try on 11 minutes when another kick was fumbled and the same result came from an attacking Horden scrum. Northern then scored an exceptional try on 20 minutes when back row Lawrence Annis managed to steal a Horden line out 10 metres from the line. Showing good pace he sped out of the 22 and passed on to his support players. Good hands moved the ball to the left wing where Connor Chamberlain showed his serious pace to race in for an unconverted try in the corner.Horden then kicked a penalty on 24 minutes after a Northern infringement but this was their last score of the half. Northern upped the tempo and from a scrum in the Horden 22 the ball was moved quickly to centre Harry Clark who swatted away a couple of defenders before touching down under the posts for a try converted by scrum half Tommy Williams on 30 minutes. Northern continued to press and on 37 minutes, from another good scrum, the ball was recycled and moved right to Harry Clark who again showed strength and power to beat the defenders and score his second try under the posts. The conversion by Tommy Williams was good. Half time score: Horden II 17 – Northern Wanderers 24.
Northern were soon on the score-sheet again when on 43 minutes from a good driving scrum the ball was moved blind to full back Dan Matthews who’s fine run was supported by Tommy Williams who took the inside pass to score then convert his own try. Northern managed another try on 57 minutes when wing Connor Chamberlain chased and claimed a kick in the Horden 22 then passed to the supporting Harry Clark who dotted down under the posts for his hat trick. The conversion was good by Tommy Williams after a short delay when the Horden centre lost it with the referee after he believed the Northern players were laughing at him (they were actually laughing at Connor Chamberlain for giving Harry Clark another try when Connor was tied on trys scored in the season with Harry). The referee deserves great credit for getting the Horden coach to replace the player instead of taking the easy option and red carding him. This delay unsettled Northern and fired up Horden who capitalised on some defensive uncertainty when from a 5 metre scrum their number 8 picked up and blasted over for a converted try on 63 minutes. Northern scored another fine try on 70 minutes when following a good break out of the Northern half the ball was taken on by back row Lawrence Annis who passed on to supporting fly half Spike Strang who touched down out wide. The conversion was made by Tommy Williams. Horden to their credit refused to lie down and scored an unconverted try on 72 minutes with a catch and drive from a 5 metre penalty line out. Horden scored a final try on 77 minutes when their outstanding number 8 drove through some poor Northern tackling to race in. Their fly half converted with a great kick into the wind. Northern came back and following a great turnover by hooker Lloyd Holmes, the ball was taken on by prop Duncan Arnold who gave a slick offload to the supporting Tommy Williams who scored an unconverted try on time. Final score: Horden II 36 – Northern Wanderers 50.
Sat. 7th March 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Alnwick II. Northumberland Senior Shield home.
Northern started this cup semi-final kicking into the wind in good form following a good performance the previous week at Percy Park. The opening exchanges were even but Alnwick were taking advantage of the wind and following a penalty kick for a 5 metre line out they recycled the ball and drove over for a converted try on 13 minutes. Northern took the game back to Alnwick and pressed hard for an equalizing score but a combination of ‘white line fever’ and resolute Alnwick defence prevented a try. Northern were on the score sheet in the 29th minute when number 8 Ryan Moore kicked a penalty following an Alnwick infringement. Northern lost focus on 31 minutes when a poor kick return was turned over by Alnwick and their fly half made a good break to put their centre through for a converted try somewhat against the run of play. Northern made amends soon after the kick off when back row Matt Brooks ripped the ball from an Alnwick maul on the Northern 10 metre line. The ball was moved to prop and captain Ian Brierley who made a powerful forward run before offloading to the supporting backs. The ball reached wing Charlie Craven who accelerated into the Alnwick 22 before taking out the last defender with a crisp inside pass to centre Harrison Clark who touched down for a try converted Ryan Moore. Northern were having difficulties with the refereeing inconstancies at the break-down and conceded a penalty on 38 minutes which Alnwick again kicked for a 5 metre line out and scored another converted try from a forward drive. Things got worse for Northern when from the re-start in the last play of the half, back row Matt Brooks was harshly sin-binned for handling in the ruck even though it looked like the Alnwick player on the ground was isolated and the ball was free. Half time score: Northern Wanderers 10 – Alnwick II 21.
Northern were competitive from the start of the second half but on 46 minutes centre Harrison Clark was rightly sin-binned for a dangerous tackle however the Alnwick penalty kick was wide. Northern were caught out on 51 minutes when trying to run out of their 22. A poor kick was run back by Alnwick and they exploited the space to score a converted try. Northern did press from the re-start and forced a lineout 10 metres from the Alnwick line. A perfectly executed short line out saw Ian Brierley surging into the channel with a score looking on. Unfortunately the move was halted by the referee’s whistle and Alnwick were given a free kick for the ball apparently not going 5 metres. Alnwick launched another attack on 55 minutes and a missed tackle allowed Alnwick to score another converted try. The game ended as a contest on 64 minutes when Ryan Moore, frustrated by a number of contentious decisions, lost control and was correctly red carded by the referee for something he said. Alnwick kicked the penalty to increase their lead. The 14 men of Northern made a concerted effort at this stage and on 67 minutes the ball was moved to replacement wing Connor Chamberlain who outpaced the Alnwick defenders to score a superb unconverted try. Northern continued to press and on 68 minutes following a great run from openside Chris Ure the ball was passed to the supporting Harrison Clark who put his fellow centre Dan Kerr in for another good try. The conversion was made by Harrison Clark and there seemed to be a way back for Northern at this point. Northern still tried to get back into the game but could not find a way through the Alnwick defence and with the Northern pack out on their feet Northern were again harshly penalised at the break down. From the penalty Alnwick kicked for a 5 metre line out which they scored an unconverted try from on 75 minutes. Northern’s bad day at the office was completed when Alnwick turned the ball over in the last play and scored a converted try on time despite what looked like two forward passes in the move. Final score: Northern Wanderers 22 – Alnwick II 50.
Sat. 28th February 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Percy Park Lions. Candy League 1 - away.
The afternoon was stress free until first hooker Lloyd Holmes announced that he was going direct to Park but his kit was going to be at Northern and needed a lift, then lock Finn Healy rang to say he was at Silverlink trying to get some size 15 boots to replace the pair floating in the river next to Morpeth RFC after his car crash before the last game!! Having said that, the 16 players looked focussed in the warm up and started the game well. With Park playing with a strong wind they were able to relieve sustained Northern pressure with a good kicking game and on 12 minutes they scored a converted try very much against the run of play when a Northern line out deep in the 22 was lost. From the resulting scrum their no. 8 fed their inside centre who ran a great line to touch down under the posts. Northern were not fazed by this and kept up the pressure until on 20 minutes Park conceded a penalty which no. 8 Ryan Moore converted from 30 metres. Northern continued to press and on 24 minutes Park were reduced to 14 men when their back row was somewhat harshly sin-binned for killing the ball. Northern elected to kick for the line out but again their set piece malfunctioned and Park were able to clear their lines. Northern finally got their reward when they forced a 5 metre scrum in the 35th minute and the ball was recycled from the pick-up and drive to fly half James Hattersley who scythed through for an excellent try which Ryan Moore converted. Northern finished strongly when in the 39th minutes lock Tom Sealby stole the ball from a Park line out and from the break down crisp passing from James Hattersley put away outside centre Harry Clark who ran a great angle to score. The conversion from Ryan Moore was good to leave the half time score: Northern Wanderers 17 – Percy Park 7.
Northern continued where they left off at half time and pressed from the restart. On 46 minutes they used the ball well from an attacking scrum in the Park 22 moving the ball right and tying in the Park midfield. Northern recycled quickly and moved the ball left with a long pass from scrum half Joss Pinsent to Harry Clark. The centre showed great pace (the new ‘go faster’ boots working well) to touch down for a fine try which was again converted by Ryan Moore. Northern’s concentration slipped at this point and their exit play was poor despite having a strong wind behind them and on 53 minutes following a poor kick out of the 22 Park forced a 5 metre scrum and duly scored a converted try by no. 8. Northern did respond from the kick off and Park conceded a penalty 35 metres out but the kick just faded to the right despite a good strike by Ryan Moore. Northern again struggled to win their own ball from a line out in their 22 and Park capitalised on 65 minutes to score another converted try to close within three points. The Northern pack were tiring at this point with back rows Anth Baird and Mat Brooks both requiring treatment. Park sensed this and upped their game breaking the Northern defence on 70 minutes to score a soft converted try although the final pass did appear well forward. Northern did have an opportunity to cut the deficit when being awarded two kickable penalties 25 metres out but on both occasions a lack of composure showed when both were tapped and taken quickly with Park defending the threat and clearing their lines. Park scored a further converted try on 74 minutes when poor Northern tackling allowed another score. Northern however, were not finished and rallied for the final 6 minutes pressing Park back into their own half. The pressure eventually told when the forwards drove on and provided quick ball for the backs. Good handling moved the ball wide then an inside pass back to centre Spike Strang who sprinted in for a bonus point try on 79 minutes which Ryan Moore converted to reduce the deficit to four points. Northern took the restart and forced Park back into their own half where they conceded a kickable penalty. This was the last play so prop and skipper Ian Brierley took a quick tap and made a fine run to the line. There were two men outside him but Park were able to smother tackle and kick the ball out. Final score: Northern Wanderers 31 – Percy Park 35.
Sat. 14th February 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Morpeth Reivers. Candy Trophy semi-final - away.
An eventful Saturday with drama from the start culminated in Northern just falling short in a match they could have won. With lock Finn Healy involved in a road accident outside the ground Northern were forced to re-shuffle their pack before the game with replacement back row Gyles Ellison moving into the second row. Finn was ok after his road accident but his van was written off along with a few trees.
Northern started in excellent form taking the game to Morpeth from the kick off. From a Northern scrum on the Morpeth 22 a no. 8 pick-up and drive from Ian Brierley pushed the Morpeth defence back and the recycled ball was spun wide for outside centre Harrison Clark to surge over for a fine try on 3 minutes converted by hooker Ryan Moore. Northern continued to press with Morpeth’s only response through their kicking game. Confusion in the Northern fielding gave Morpeth a scrum 10 metres out on 15 minutes and Morpeth’s big back row picked up and drove over for a converted try. Northern’s exit strategy was poor and instead of using the wind and kicking long from their 22 they seemed obsessed with trying to run out of defence. Morpeth found them out on 23 minutes when good pressing forced Northern to concede a penalty for holding on. Morpeth tapped and again their big forwards powered over for another converted try. Northern finally woke up and followed the game plan by moving the ball quickly to their pacey backs. Good hands from Harrison Clark found his centre partner Spike Strang 60 metres out. The centre showed good composure and shimmied through the gap in the Morpeth midfield to run in for a super try on 31 minutes. The conversion attempt to tie the game was just pulled wide by Ryan Moore despite a good strike. Northern then switched off again and conceded a penalty on 38 minutes in their 22 after again failing to clear the ball. Morpeth scored from another tapped penalty in a carbon copy of their previous try, however the conversion attempt was missed. Half time score: Morpeth Reivers 19 – Northern Wanderers 12.
Northern started the second half in a daze and managed to turn over the kick off despite a fine take by lock Gyles Ellison. The Morpeth pack put in a mighty drive and crashed over out wide for an unconverted try on 42 minutes. Northern bounced back on 43 minutes with a penalty by hooker Ryan Moore after Morpeth infringed from the re-start. This galvanised Northern into action and a good break by Harrison Clark from his 22 on 46 minutes almost lead to a try when he took out the last defender on the Morpeth 10 metre line with a clever delayed pass but with wing Henry Kilpatrick outside him supporting lock Patrick Douglas was just unable to hold onto the ball and an almost certain 7 points was missed. The Northern pack was starting to build some momentum and Northern were awarded a penalty on 50 minutes 15 metes out from the Morpeth line. Sadly, the referee reversed the decision and sin-binned back row Matt Brooks for stamping. This cost Northern as Morpeth pressed Northern back and on 58 minutes their centre scored a fine unconverted try after coming on a good line from just outside the Northern 22. Northern did regain some momentum once they were back to a full complement and could have scored another try on 63 minutes when a great chase by full back Dan Matthews caught the Morpeth full back 10 metres from the line. Northern’s chasers looked to be best placed to pick up the loose ball and score but somehow a Morpeth defender managed to gather and kick the ball out for a Northern line out. Northern continued to press but Morpeth defended resolutely to see the game out. Final score: Morpeth Reivers 29 – Northern Wanderers 15.
Sat. 7th February 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Tyndale Raiders. Candy League 1 away.
A difficult afternoon for a young Wanderers team who showed great character to keep going against a very clinical Tynedale team boasting several players with National 1 league experience. Tynedale showed their pace and execution with their first try on 2 minutes following a kick and chase. Poor Northern tacking on 8 minutes allowed another score out wide followed by an excellent Tynedale try on 17 minutes when from an attacking line out they went through multiple phases and scored. Tynedale scored a further try out wide on 20 minutes when their wing broke clear and sped in. The Tynedale pack scored their next try on 25 minutes when their big back row crashed over from a tapped penalty. Northern were having some phases of play which were taking them into the Tynedale 22 with some good runs by fly half James Hattersley and good carries by the forwards. A score looked likely on 28 minutes after Tynedale infringed but centre Spike Strang just missed with a penalty kick from 25 metres. Tynedale scored two further long range trys wide with their pacey backs on 35 and 37 minutes. Half time score: Tynedale Raiders 39 - Northern Wanderers 0.
Northern were in the game more in the second half and had several promising phases of play which took them into scoring range but unforced errors and clever play by Tynedale prevented a score. Tynedale’s pace brought them a try out wide on 42 minutes and on 47 minutes after a deft kick from James Hattersley just eluded right wing James Pattison the Tynedale wing gathered the ball in his own in goal area and ran the length of the field to score under the posts. Northern did get a score on 55 minutes when from a penalty line out 5 metres from the line the referee credited openside Chris Ure with a touchdown in the corner although the grounding looked dubious. Tynedale responded with further trys on 60 minutes, 63 minutes, 65 minutes and 78 minutes where their pace and movement proved too much for the Northern defence. Final score: Tynedale Raiders 75 - Northern Wanderers 5.
Footnote: It just showed the strength of this Tynedale Raiders team when they brought on Pat Power ex Northern first team back row as replacement for the last 20 minutes. Northern did play well and the pack competed throughout the game but Tynedale had too much pace and organisation.