There’s no disguising the fact that this was a crucial, below par performance from Kirkby and wise heads were wondering why one of the best half back pairings in the league, Ben Walker at nine and Mike Fearon at ten, were played out of position.

A strong wind blew from the south west which indicated that storm Ciara may not be far away as Kirkby kicked off towards the town.

The kick held up in the wind but Alnwick caught cleanly and took the ball in where Kirkby coughed up a penalty with only forty five second on the clock. This allowed the visitors to clear downwind for a lineout just outside the home twenty two.

The visitors won their throw but Kirkby dealt with the attack and took play back into Alnwick territory where a high tackle in defence gave Kirkby a kick at goal, Mike Fearon made no mistake and Kirkby were ahead 3 – 0 after six minutes.

Four minutes later they handed the lead back with an offside which gave Alnwick an easy kick to level the score 3 – 3. From the restart Alnwick caught and cleared downfield, Kirkby ran it back and a promising move looked on but a handling error on half way saw the ball go loose.

Alnwick got a boot to it, caught Kirkby up flat and sprinted through to pick up and score by the posts, a gift try and the easy conversion made the score 3 – 10 with twelve minutes played.

Kirkby did hit back with a try when the forwards got a rumble going in the left corner, flanker Stu Storey making the touchdown.

The wind blew Fearon’s touchline conversion kick wide but Kirkby were back in it at 8 – 10 as the first quarter drew to a close.

Back came Alnwick, play was around ten metres from the home line in the right corner with Kirkby in possession but they dithered the pick up at the back of a ruck and Alnwick drove over to gain possession.

The visitors moved the ball infield, Kirkby were penalised in defence and whilst they were still moaning about the decision Alnwick took a tap and go which the ref allowed to score their second gift try, the conversion taking them out to 8 – 17 on the half hour.

It’s worth making the point that in the game Kirkby took a few tap and goes but were brought back every time.

As half time approached Kirkby gave the visitors a chance to extend their lead with a penalty for a high tackle which was banged over to make the half time score 8 – 20.

Fourteen of Alnwick’s twenty points being gifts and this was way off what was required.

Kirkby did reduce the deficit early in the second half with a long range penalty from Fearon to make it 11 – 20 and they were right back in it when Alnwick over threw a defensive lineout some ten metres from their line.

The ball fell into the grateful arms of Kirkby prop Dan Thompson whose charge was unstoppable to score by the posts, Fearon’s conversion narrowing the gap to 18 – 20 mid way through the half and a home win looked on.

But this chance declined when indiscipline in defence cost Kirkby a player with second row Gareth Gore yellow carded for what might have been dissent.

With the extra man Alnwick built pressure with a sequence of scrums near the line and Kirkby may have been lucky not to pick up a second yellow as they infringed in defence.

But the pressure finally told when the fourteen were stretched too far and the visitors got over the line in the left corner.

The touchline conversion got the treatment from the wind and went well wide and the score was 18 – 25 as the clock ran down.

It hadn’t changed when the final whistle went and Kirkby had to settle for a losing bonus point in a home performance that was far from good enough.

This lapse against Alnwick is highlighted by results elsewhere where teams in the lower regions of the division are gaining wins against teams previously at the top who may now be thinking that promotion is not such a good idea.

This has an unbalancing effect where results which were reasonably predictable are now less so and puts great emphasis on the next game away at Wirral who are currently in the bottom three.