Vale lost to Alnwick for the second time this season on Saturday and fell a long way short of the standards set in their January victories against Kendal and Ilkley.
The efficiency in all aspects of Vale’s game that were there in spades against Ilkley were sadly absent, certainly in a dismal first half and for long periods in the second.
Alnwick were deserved winners, they bossed the first half and even on the few occasions they were put under pressure in the second they always appeared comfortable.
It was a pretty undistinguished performance from the Vale.
Alnwick clattered into the Vale straight from the kick off and in the second minute they ran in their first try.
As Vale’s defence went walkabout, space was created for winger Matthew Holmes to exploit, his try being converted by lock forward, James Bird.
With Alnwick making all the running, Vale were nervously backpedalling and unable to string any passages of positive rugby together.
With Alnwick dominant in all aspects of the game it was only a matter of time when they added to their score and it came along in the 12thminute.
Skipper and number nine Peter Moralee, who marshalled his troops with quiet authority, chipped the ball towards the right hand corner and while the Vale dithered and utterly failed to spot the danger signs, right winger Sean Hutchinson collected the ball for an unconverted try.
Twelve points in 12 minutes was not a bad return but Alnwick must have harboured thoughts that sooner or later the Vale would come out to play, in the meantime they methodically went about building further scores.
In the 22nd minute a neatly constructed try packed with short, accurate passing across to their left flank resulted in an unconverted try for Oli Sutheran wide out.
There was still no response from Vale, who were visibly having their noses tweaked and in the 27th minute Alnwick collected their try bonus point when a spirited forward drive proved to be too strong for the Vale to cope with let alone halt.
Danny Clayton was awarded the try which James Bird converted to complete the first half scoring.
With many supporters seeking the sanctuary of the stand or the clubhouse there was a glimmer of hope for Vale because they had the wind at their backs from the scoreboard end. Alas it did not make a massive difference; the Vale continued to play a shuffling square dance that occasionally crossed the game line but then ran out of partners.
Just before the hour mark Sam Wallbank’s try, which Hall converted, breathed life into Vale but Alnwick remained rock solid, they still had enough in their locker to cause Vale to scramble back in defence as the Northumbrians went on to extend their winning sequence to four games and something to celebrate and purr about on their long journey back home.
Vale are without a fixture on Saturday, time for the number crunchers to study the fixtures and the league table.
Four wins, a tall order at this moment in time, might result in survival, but similar equations might be swirling around the heads of the coaches and players at Wilmslow, Kendal and Lymm, one thing is certain that Vale can ill afford to repeat the Alnwick calamity too frequently as the season moves towards it denouement.