Last Saturday our side entertained newly promoted Alnwick for the first time since the 2002-03 season and that was at our old Haworth Park ground, so this was Alnwick’s first visit to the Ferens Ground. Unlike the two other promoted clubs, Wilmslow and Vale of Lune, Alnwick had made a good start to their season winning four of their seven league games and it must be said that they gave Hull a very hard game before going down 29-13. Hull led 10-3 at the interval and with most of the game being played in the visitors half the difference in class gradually took its toll on their dogged defence. A penalty try in the 54 minute was the break through, followed by tries in the 59th and 67th minutes. Alnwick scored an opportunist try in the 56th minute and finished the game with a fine try involving several players which brought good applause from the home fans. Hull’s tries were scored by Alex Heard, Keane Naylor and Liam Regardsoe with Steve Johnson adding a conversion and a penalty and Simon Humberstone added the conversion for the final try. This was Hull’s seventh consecutive win.
Elsewhere in the division second placed Billingham kept up the pressure on Hull with a very good 55-21 home win over struggling Wilmslow but the big shock of the day was at Harrogate where the home side were surprisingly beaten 38-26 by Kirkby Lonsdale. Harrogate had both of their props injured in the first half and the game was played out using uncontested scrums. Lymm and Vale of Lune played out an amazing 38-38 draw giving Vale their first league points to add to their 3 losing bonus points. Newly relegated Blaydon lost their third match on the trot with a 27-19 defeat at Rossendale and are obviously finding life the NPL not as easy as they might have expected after their opening 92-12 win against Vale of Lune. Sandal are making steady progress up the league table and got into the top four for the first time this season with a solid 44-24 home win over third from bottom Kendal. Finally, Ilkley seem to have recovered well from their home defeat against Alnwick the previous week when they posted an excellent 39-17 away win at Wirral.
The result of all these games is that Hull still remain top of the table with 35 points followed by Billingham with 34 points while Sandal move up into third spot with 28 points at the expense of Harrogate who drop to fourth with 27. In the nether regions of the table Vale of Lune remain bottom with 5 points, Wilmslow are one place above with 7 points while Kendal are on 9. They are 9 points behind Lymm who have 18 points so a definite gap is opening up at the bottom. The same could almost be said at the top where third placed Sandal are six behind Billingham and seven behind Hull.
This week’s fixtures have the usual quota of interesting games when Alnwick v Lymm sees tenth play eleventh; Blaydon v Wirral sees fifth play ninth; eighth take on first when Ilkley face Hull and Kendal v Billingham sees twelfth take on second. What looks like a good game is at Kirkby Lonsdale when Sandal come to town for a sixth v third fixture; bottom club Vale of Lune host fourth placed Harrogate and finally, Wilmslow v Rossendale is where thirteenth take on seventh. My three home wins to watch for are at Alnwick, Blaydon and Kirkby Lonsdale, where the home side will be looking to post their third consecutive victory.