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1st XV - Match centre

S Gratton, J Reeve, M Loon
J Annetts (2)
J Annetts
Sat 1 Sep 15:00 - Northern Division - North Premier Full time

Wirral Eventually Overcome a Stubborn Alnwick


In the first ever meeting between these sides, a typical 'first game of the season' saw a few errors but the home team came out on top.

For the first game of the season, Wirral entertained Alnwick who were promoted from North East 1 at the end of last season. Rather than travelling down on the day of the match given the distance between the two clubs they stayed overnight in Runcorn.
From the Wirral team selected, DAN HARVEY suffered an Achilles injury in training on Thursday so Matt Loon came off the bench to start. This resulted in changes in the back division with Ben Cornford going to full back, James Annetts moving to centre. The subs were Ryan Stead (starting his 20th season in senior rugby), Chris Speed and John Harris returning to first team action after some 3 seasons or so.. Wirral played towards the main road in the first half.
The first few minutes saw play contained in mid –field with matters not helped with Wirral dropping three passes in the first 6 minutes. In the 8th minute Alnwick took the lead with a 40m penalty by Alex Robson. At this stage both sides were giving away too many penalties and the game was not flowing. One such penalty gave Wirral a line out some 15m from the Alnwick line and a familiar catch and drive saw the Wirral pack push their opposite numbers over the whitewash with Stuart Gratton being credited with the touchdown wide out, the conversion was missed. 5-3 (13 minutes).
The lead was short lived as a penalty gave Alnwick a line out in the Wirral 20m area where they built pressure on the Wirral line, which resulted in Alex Robson crossing for a try under the posts as a result of sloppy play and a missed tackle. He duly converted to give the away side a 5-10 lead. Wirral started to raise their game and an Alnwick dropped ball enabled Wirral to progress to 5m from the opposition line and progress could have been made but a player in possession ran into his teammate close to the line enabling Alnwick to clear. On 28 minutes, Rob Pearl was yellow carded and this enabled Alnwick to again build pressure on Wirral but the Wirral defence held out and eventually cleared. Ryan Stead came on for Paul Lewis on 35 mins. In the final minutes of the half, Wirral had a great opportunity to score when the ball was dropped in the corner when in the act of scoring enabling Alnwick to relieve the pressure. With the score at 5-10 the teams turned round with the slight breeze now favouring Wirral.
The second half saw Wirral playing with more determination and were now controlling the ball enabling them to make progress downfield. A James Annetts half break fed Matt Loon who was tackled 5 m short but with the forwards controlling the ball, JAMES REEVES forced his way over in the corner and with James Annetts converting from the touchline gave Wirral a 12-10 lead. The lead then changed hands twice more with an exchange of penalties from Alex Robson and James Annetts to give a score line of 15-13 after 54 minutes. In this period, Ben Cornford pulled a hamstring chasing back for a ball and was replaced by Chris Speed. Alnwick had one final kick for goal from 36m out but 10m from the touchline but this just failed.
The game was starting to open up with both teams finding more space to use their backs but defences were still on top. JOHNHARRIS came on for JAMES REEVES. On 64 minutes came the decisive moment of the game when play in the Alnwick 20m area gave Wirral a 5m scrum, first they went blind then swung play open with Craig Harvey slipping a short pass to Matt Loon who went in under the posts unopposed and with the conversion from James Annetts gave Wirral a 22-13 lead and some breathing space. Paul Lewis came on for MATT DALTON and JAMES REEVES came on for the injured Sam Broadbent with John Harris going into the centres.
Alnwick made their best break of the game but the Wirral defence got back to clear and the home team played the last remaining minutes of this absorbing game in the Alnwick half as they battled for that elusive 4th try bonus point.
Given that the first team have only had a trial game in Douglas a fortnight ago, new coach DARREN HALL recognises that there is improvement to come in the weeks ahead as players return to training and the squad increases. Although the score line suggests close game which it was, Wirral should have won more easily.
Next week the first team are away at Hull so it will be an early start for anyone wishing to travel over to the east coast, look out for details on the website/notice board.

Key moments

Try Stuart Gratton scores for Wirral
Try James Reeve scores for Wirral
Conversion James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral
Penalty James Annetts kicks a penalty for Wirral
Try Matt Loon scores for Wirral
Conversion James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral

Videos and photos

1/9/2018 Wirral v Alnwick
38 photos
1/9/2018 Wirral v Alnwick


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72:00 Sub Off
Sam Broadbent is substituted off for Wirral
72:00 Sub On
James Reeve is substituted on for Wirral
68:00 Sub Off
Matty Dalton is substituted off for Wirral
68:00 Sub On
Paul Lewis is substituted on for Wirral
66:00 Try Assist
Craig Harvey makes an assist for Wirral
66:00 Try 20 - 0
Matt Loon scores for Wirral
66:00 Conversion 22 - 0
James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral
58:00 Sub On
John Harris is substituted on for Wirral
58:00 Sub Off
James Reeve is substituted off for Wirral
54:00 Penalty 15 - 0
James Annetts kicks a penalty for Wirral
50:00 Sub Off
Ben Cornford is substituted off for Wirral
50:00 Sub On
Chris Speed is substituted on for Wirral
47:00 Try 10 - 0
James Reeve scores for Wirral
47:00 Conversion 12 - 0
James Annetts kicks a conversion for Wirral
End of period 1
35:00 Sub Off
Paul Lewis is substituted off for Wirral
35:00 Sub On
Ryan Stead is substituted on for Wirral
28:00 Yellow Card
Rob Pearl is yellow carded for Wirral
13:00 Try 5 - 0
Stuart Gratton scores for Wirral
13:00 Missed Conversion
James Annetts misses a conversion for Wirral
Start of the game
Replay game

As it happened

  • Wirral
  • Alnwick
  • 0
  • Stuart Gratton Try 13:00'
  • Rob Pearl Yellow Card 28:00'
  • Paul Lewis Sub Off 35:00'
  • Ryan Stead Sub On 35:00'
  • James Reeve Try 47:00'
  • James Annetts Conversion 47:00'
  • Ben Cornford Sub Off 50:00'
  • Chris Speed Sub On 50:00'
  • James Annetts Penalty 54:00'
  • James Reeve Sub Off 58:00'
  • John Harris Sub On 58:00'
  • Matt Loon Try 66:00'
  • Craig Harvey Try Assist 66:00'
  • James Annetts Conversion 66:00'
  • Matty Dalton Sub Off 68:00'
  • Paul Lewis Sub On 68:00'
  • Sam Broadbent Sub Off 72:00'
  • James Reeve Sub On 72:00'

Team selection

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League round up

Other North Premier results

Kirkby Lonsdale


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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. Hull 26 118
2. Blaydon 26 99
3. Harrogate 26 98
4. Billingham 26 89
5. Rossendale 26 72
6. Sandal 26 70
7. Wirral 26 69

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