Wanderers lost 19 – 40 to Morpeth Reivers. Match report by Huw Reynolds:
Firstly, best wishes to Lloyd Holmes who sustained what can best be described as a ‘nasty’ injury on Saturday. Photographs are available to those with a gruesome disposition. Thankfully, Lloyd is making a good recovery.
With an opportunity to seal top position in Candy League 1, Wanderers started nervously and despite having a strong breeze in our favour poor exit strategies allowed Morpeth to dominate territory throughout the first half. We had planned to keep possession tight around the breakdown but poor execution allowed Morpeth to score 4 times. Wanderers responded late in the half with a converted try by Sam Taylor. 7 – 20 to Morpeth after 40 minutes.
The second half produced a much improved performance. Some excellent rolling mauls, driving rucks and good retention allowed our forwards to dominate, leading to tries by Lee Thompson and Paddy Douglas, one of which was converted by Alex Turnbull. At this point we were dominating the match and got the score back to 19 – 20. Unfortunately, Morpeth countered with a try of their own and then numerous injuries, including Lloyd Holmes’s broken thumb, resulted in us fielding only 14 men for much of the last quarter. Final score 19 – 40.
An encouraging second half to the season has resulted in Wanderers finishing high in the league and runners up in the County Cup. All bodes well for next season.
Wanderers “won” 12 Alnwick II 41. Match report by Huw Reynolds:
Spring had sprung in Alnwick last Saturday but while lambs were frolicking merrily in the surrounding hills, there was an end-of-season feel to this fixture with numerous players unavailable and late withdrawals. Nevertheless, Wanderers travelled with confidence with some new names bolstering the side.
Northern dominated the first half, primarily due to excellent carries and driving mauls from the forwards, one of which resulted in Duncan Arnold, try-machine that he is, powering over under the posts. Jordan Brown added the conversion. There were also 2 disallowed tries that, if awarded, would have far more accurately reflected Wanderer’s dominance. Unfortunately, towards the end of the first half a breakaway by Alnwick resulted in a converted try for the home side and a half-time score of 7-7 which was a poor return for a good performance.
The second half was a different affair and Alnwick ran away with it after bringing on a number of young, fast legs, and an experience ‘old head’ to steer the ship. In contrast, Wanderers had only one substitute and ended up with only 13 fully fit players. We did manage an excellent score out wide by Paul Mawhinney however after putting together a number of phases.
Mention must go to two players who normally run out for the Panthers and who both had excellent games. Ollie Dykes had a fine debut in the second row (and latterly in the backs) while Sam Taylor is obviously destined for higher things after a superb performance at No. 7. Well done lads.
The match ended in controversy however. Alnwick had no front row replacement. After literally 30 seconds, one of their props had to leave the field and all scrums were uncontested. The Alnwick management, with whom we have a great relationship, were first to declare that the league points were ours. Candy League rules confirmed this was the case.
Saturday 12th March 2016. Northumberland senior shield semi-final. Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 74 Northern Wanderers.
On a lovely Spring day, everything seemed set for a good afternoon of rugby, however, not everything went to plan.
Firstly, following a late pitch inspection 15 minutes before kick-off, Gosforth’s 2ndteam pitch was declared unplayable as it bore more resemblance to a swamp than a playing field. The venue was quickly moved to Northern’s 2nd team pitch with a 15 minute delay to the kick off.
Secondly, as with all Northumberland Cup ties, three replacements are allowed unless up to six have been agreed by both clubs. This was not the case and Gosforth insisted on only three replacements. Credit must go to Chris Ure, Will Lawton and Neil Graham for agreeing to stand down at the last minute (Neil because Lee Thompson’s mam was there to watch him).
Thank goodness the game was entertaining with Northern playing some good rugby despite the disruptions.
The first half started with a fine unconverted try by full back Dan Matthews on 5 minutes who outpaced the wide defence closely followed by a forwards try when hooker Lloyd Holmes (who finished the day with seven strikes against the head) scored under the posts, back row Ryan Moore converting on 8 minutes. Centre Alex Turnbull blasted through the Gosforth defence to touch down on 22 minutes with Ryan Moore making good the conversion then, not to be outdone, centre Harrison Clark powered through several attempted tackles to score an unconverted try out wide on 30 minutes.
Northern continued to press and right wing Dan Kerr showed good pace to touch down on 35 minutes with Ryan Moore unluckily hitting the bar with his conversion attempt. Back row Lee Thompson impressed his mam by scoring a try under the posts on 38 minutes that Ryan Moore improved. The final score of the half was a lovely piece of skill from Dan Kerr who chipped over the static Gosforth defenders, re-gathered and shimmied through to touch down for a try that Ryan Moore again improved. Half time score: Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 43 Northern Wanderers.
The second half kicked off with David Riddles at fly-half for Paul Mawhinney and he soon put his stamp on the afternoon with a lovely move bringing left wing David Reah into the line from the blindside with the wing taking a great line to score an unconverted try on 48 minutes. Northern were regularly breaking through the Gosforth defence with good runs from Ian Brierley, Rob Richardson, Gyles Ellison and some fine interchanging between Dan Matthews, Harrison Clark and David Reah but resolute Gosforth defending prevented a score until the 55th minute when Alex Turnbull touched down after a robust run for a try that Ryan Moore converted. Alex scored his third and fourth trys on 65 and 67 minutes, both being converted by Ryan Moore. Before the final whistle, Matt Brooks had time for one of his trademark 40 metre runs, entertaining the spectators with his power and pace before signalling for oxygen and asking for a rest (refused) then David Reah scored a super try diving under the posts following a backs move with Ryan Moore unusually missing the conversion on 71 minutes. The ref. blew for time early with Gosforth conceding the game at this point giving everyone time to see the kick off of England v Wales.
Final score: Gosforth Phoenix 0 – 74 Northern Wanderers.
Wanderers 5 Darlington Mowden Park 55. Match report by Andre James
On a what was a truly horrible day to venture outside let alone play rugby, with intermittent sleet showers, a bitingly cold wind and a claggy pitch, Northern Wanderers took the field at home against a Darlington Mowden Park second selected team. Northern's cause wasn't particularly helped by having two cry-offs on the morning of the game and two "no- shows" which meant that there was precious little cover on the bench.
It is an old adage that a good little 'un will one rarely beat a good big 'un and the difference in terms of sheer physical bulk was evident from the time that both sides took the field of play, with DMP having a number of South Sea islanders in their ranks, including a six foot five, seventeen stone lock with (so the whisper went) two caps for Tonga.
Despite this, Northern started brightly with strong pressure on DMP from the kick off resulting in a penalty to Northern for holding on the ground. Quick thinking by Lee Thompson with a tapped penalty and swift hands to deliver the ball to David Riddles on the left hand side of the twenty two, led to an excellent try in the corner, with Riddles, who still had a lot of work to do to get around the last two defenders, finding a great curving line to run in over the whitewash. The conversion was missed from a difficult angle.
With a little more luck the Wanderers could have scored another couple of tries in the game but were denied when a delicate nudge through from Nico Melchiorre, after sustained pressure in the DMP 22, just wouldn't sit up for him to dab down and when DMP scored a break away try when the ball broke loose, led by their man of the match, the Tongan lock, who rampaged through a number of tackles before freeing one of their speedy centres to score, after Northern had been pressing hard for a number of phases deep in DMP territory.
Unfortunately, however, after that first score, Northern were on the back foot for the rest of the match from a DMP team who shook of their initial torpor and whose superior physical size, speed and strength led them to run in tries throughout the remainder of the match to emerge 5-55 victors.
Rob Richardson, the smallest man on the pitch, controlled what ball he had well at nine, and probably made more successful tackles than anyone else in Northern colours. Dave Lockhart, who was forced to play most of the game due to retirements from chest infections and knee injuries, still had enough in the tank to not only scrummage well but also to win back a restart dabbed along the ground which just travelled the required ten metres late in the second half. All the forwards deserve credit for holding the scrum together against a much bigger pack and getting the ball away under enormous pressure, with Lloyd Holmes consistent in getting a good quick strike and the ball working quickly to the no8 to pick and go or distribute. Will Lawton put himself about the park with his customary energy and Ian Brierley led with his usual "out of the trenches and at ‘em" style. John “Deano” Dean-Laws added an aggressive edge when he came on to the field, James Pattinson and Harry Clark carried the ball abrasively into contact, Dan Matthews and Paul Mawhinney tried to find space when they could and David Riddles kicked well out of hand and passed accurately, but this was a day when the backs were never going to see much of the ball in their hands in open play given the opposition strength and the conditions.
However, credit must go to all the Wanderers for showing enormous resilience in continuing to try to play in the face of considerable adversity and also to DMP for playing the game in their right spirit and never resorting to showboating. The overall attitude of their players and coach were a credit to their club.
The match could be regarded either as a learning curve or as a game too far;- I hope most of the players thought the former, although that is easy for me to say from the side lines running touch watching the game !
Wanderers 53 Percy Park 17
Let’s make no bones about it, this was a great win against a side that we haven’t beaten for some time. With the 1sts also beating Park and the Panthers winning handsomely at Blaydon, this was a good day all round. As pleasing as anything was that all sides were fully manned-up, with substitutes coming out of our ears. It’s been feast or famine thus far into the season but let’s hope that we have no more plague or pestilence. As Woody Allen said “80% of success is showing up”.
Putting 53 points on Park can’t be argued with. However, there were issues. Whether it was the early onset of dementia or residual alcohol, our management of the referee was dire. It was clear that he had an issue with any hand that came within 2 feet of the ball in the ruck and we should have adapted accordingly. Instead, we were continually penalised, but didn’t learn. Possession is rugby’s life blood and we have to be patient at the breakdown. We also lost our discipline at times (no names mentioned!) which cost us 2 yellow cards, 1 of which could easily have been red. As wise old head Neil Hart said after the match, we have a great deal of talent, but must learn to concentrate for 80 minutes.
Enough of the whinging, the positives far outweighed the negatives. After jumping into an early and comfortable lead, a lack of concentration and multiple penalties allowed Park to strike back either side of half time and narrow our lead to 31 – 17, before we awoke from our slumbers and ran in some tremendous tries at the end of the game, the highlight being Alex Turnbull’s ‘George Best flick’ into his hands to regain a wayward pass before running under the posts. More pleasing than anything was that it was an all-round team effort that won the day, not individuals. Park were no pushovers, as the many bumps, bruises and cuts showed, but there is a strong backbone to the side that is more than capable of playing higher level rugby. The set piece was much improved, we won the majority of our lineouts and scrums and nicked a few of theirs. There were some rampaging runs from the wildebeest and slick handling from the gazelles. Pleasingly, we played a wide game, as is demonstrated by all 8 tries being scored by the centres, wings or full back.
Our ranks were bolstered with some talented new faces in Sam Sims and James Mitchell who both had excellent debuts and it is always pleasing to welcome back old lags like Joss Pinsett and Connor Chamberlain.