1st XV v North Shields
1st XV v North Shields @ North Shields in County Cup QF on Friday 23rd of August is now a 6.45PM KICK-OFF
North Shields 5-69 1st XV
The start of Morpeth's mouth-watering campaign began on a balmy August evening at the home of recently promoted North Shields in a Northumberland County Cup quarter final tie.
It will be another fortnight before Morpeth begin their first ever North Premier season at home to Carlisle. Saturday 7th September will be a watershed debut for the Mitford Road side. Morpeth will draw some comfort from this comfortable win and with the greatest respect to a North Shields side, bigger tests are on the immediate horizon.
The home side were competitive throughout and ended the scoring with a try of their own, a testament to their endurance.
For the first 20 minutes constant Morpeth pressure brought little reward other than a Fraser Boldy penalty. It was just one of many excellent place kicks from the fly half, a feature throughout the match. Yet once the defence was breached Morpeth scored with regularity even though they dropped the ball over the line on four separated occasions. Ollie Dynan ran riot with mazy individual runs bamboozling the opposition and, in some instances, his own team. Sam Hornby produced a 75-metre run to round off some good handling. Ward and Tait were also on the mark with tries and wherever it was touched down, Boldy converted.
The match gave the coaching team the opportunity to try out positions and systems. All subs being used fully, a strategy that no doubt will be a necessity in the new league.
The semi-final tie is scheduled for World Cup final day, 2nd of November, away to Tynedale Raiders or Whitley Bay Rockcliff who play next weekend.
Scoops Man of the Match Fraser Boldy
Saturday 7th September
Morpeth began their North Premier campaign with a home defeat against a Carlisle outfit who thoroughly deserved their victory. Quicker in word and deed the Cumbrians were undoubtedly the better side and dominated almost throughout against a Morpeth side who looked threatening at the odd times but whose handling and subsequent indiscipline ultimately proved decisive.Read more
It was a sunny late summer afternoon on a tremendous playing surface at Mitford Road. The pitch is better than ever, an absolute credit to John Dungait and his staff.
Carlisle had the first opportunity when, after 3 minutes a pressurised scrum saw Morpeth collapse an early, but the resultant penalty was pushed wide.
Then on 8 minutes from their first attacking foray Craigs made inroads from a lineout before a super Ben Hornby break saw full back Telford race over by the posts for a converted score.
That was the last we saw of Craigs who took a heavy knock in the process to be replaced by the hardworking and combative Jackson, who along with scrum half Elliott gave of their very best. Yet it was Carlisle who continued to have the better of the play and deservedly equalised with a try of their own on 28 minutes. They then took the lead just before the interval when breaking out of their 22, some excellent inter passing and support led to a score in the corner.
Half time 12-7.
The second half saw Carlisle dominate both in terms of possession and points scored. A crash ball at a good angle saw their Centre go over at the posts, as Morpeth's increased ill-discipline never allowed them to gain any foothold in the game. This was made worse when some good opportunities were wasted with handling errors.
Tries for Carlisle came at regular intervals and although a score came about from handling the ball at consecutive set scrums on the blindsight of the referee, no one could argue with the score line.
In the final minutes the home side, who never gave up, crossed wide out when scrum half Jack Elliot burrowed over after a cracking Ben Jackson break.
Final score 12-36.
Scoops Man of the Match Jack Elliott
1st XV 16-17 Blackburn
On a lovely sunny, late September Saturday, Morpeth entertained Blackburn in a North Premier clash. It was a day that showed the ground and its surroundings at its very best, and whilst Morpeth recorded their first point in the league, they were unable to record a victory against a Blackburn side who deservedly took the spoils.Read more
Morpeth started the better and took an early lead when fly half Ben Hornby converted a penalty. They improved their excellent start when they scored a cracking try on 8 minutes. From an opposition scrum deep in their own half, flanker Craigs set off after picking up the loose ball. It was then recycled. Ben Hornby took the ball on before centre Tait was released some 40 metres out, a dummy from the centre saw him racing through for an outstanding try to make the score 8-0 in Morpeth's favour.
Blackburn then began to dominate with hard running ball carriers causing the home side major problems - it was a constant feature throughout the game. They gained just reward when flanker Richardson rolled over from an attacking line out for a converted try on 20 minutes.
They deservedly increased that lead when full back Chadwick, lively throughout, dived over to make the score 8-12 in Blackburn's favour.
The early period of the second half saw Blackburn take control with a patience and ability to retain possession subjecting the home side to intense pressure which saw left wing Fifield go over wide out for an unconverted try on 58 minutes.
Just when you thought the game was slipping away Morpeth showed immense spirit and hit back with another excellent score. From an attacking line out, a set piece move saw Dynan initially winning the ball, before transferring back to Craigs who took advantage of the space and cruised over for an unconverted score. 13-17 to the visitors.
More was to come from the rejuvenated home side when Hornby kicked another penalty setting up a grandstand finish. 16-17.
Yet the final whistle came as Blackburn retained possession. They deserved to win notwithstanding Morpeth's excellent efforts.
This was another sharp lesson for the newly promoted home side. The opposition with their hard runners and excellence in retaining possession was decisive against Morpeth's inconsistent tackling coupled with an inability to deal with restarts which put them immediately on the back foot. That said there were many plusses not least in the spirit and endeavour which will serve them well and gain victories.
Scoops Man of the Match Bentley Brown.
Alnwick 5-32 1st XV
This was a stunning performance from a rampaging Morpeth side who thoroughly deserved to record their first win in the North Premier League, securing a bonus point in the bargain. It was also their first victory for some time against Alnwick, who produced a spirited a display but were soundly beaten on the day.
Significantly each match this season has seen an improvement for Morpeth as they get to grips with life in the higher league.
Despite all the recent rain it was an excellent playing surface. The tricky cross wind only added to the match as both sides committed fully.
The early encounters belonged to the home side as they put together the phases against a determined Morpeth defence who proved equal to the task, particularly the back row of Dynan, Williams and Donnelly who were outstanding throughout.
Possibly against the run of play, fly half Ben Hornby opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a penalty from 20 metres. 0-3 Morpeth.
The next 10 minutes saw Morpeth take a foothold in the game, particularly up front where the set scrum was causing havoc for the home side. It was therefore no surprise when Morpeth were awarded an attacking scrum some 10 metres out, they marched Alnwick back over their own line for Dynan to touch down. The front row of Moody, Hill and Sandal rightly taking the plaudits. 0-8 Morpeth.
More was to come from a dominant Morpeth pack when after recycled ball Hill, Williams and Jackson all made good ground for Hornby,' with a show and go,' dart over from close range by the posts. A score he converted. 0-15 Morpeth.
The half was rounded off by more Morpeth pressure resulting in a further 3 points after a dropped goal from Hornby. Williams was just stopped short by excellent Alnwick defence moments earlier.
Halftime score Alnwick 0-18 Morpeth.
The first score in the second half was always going to be crucial and it came from Morpeth on 52 minutes created by some excellent work from the dynamic Donnelly who first made the tackle, back on his feet, won possession for the ball to then go through the phases for skipper Hill to burrow over. Hornby converted the score. 0-25 Next the bonus point score on 70 minutes and it was worth waiting for - some 60 metres out scrum half Elliott sniped around the narrow side linking up with full back Telford who then inter-passed with the ever-present Dynan and it was Telford who crashed over for a super score. Hornby followed it up with a super conversion. 0-32 Morpeth.
Yet all credit to Alnwick who dominated the final minutes and were rightly rewarded with a late unconverted try on the left wing.
It was a convincing Morpeth performance based on forward dominance and a more than solid defensive display, a big improvement on last week.
Scoops Man of the Match - Craig Donnelly, part of an outstanding back row, whose individual turn overs were eye catching.
1st XV 17-16 Wirral
Morpeth secured their second league win of the season in what proved to be a disappointing display against a Wirral side who could feel themselves unfortunate not to come away with more than a single bonus point. The fact that the victory came by way of a long range penalty in the dying minutes speaks volumes.Read more
Yet the match started so brightly for the home side, a good scrum in centre field on the halfway mark, saw the 8 to 9 axis working well to set winger Tait free. Tait made good ground to then hand on to full back Telford who raced over for an excellent unconverted try. 5-0 Morpeth after 2 minutes.
Yet Wirral should have hit back, when Morpeth conceded a needless penalty, but the relatively easy kick was wide of the mark. How costly that early miss would prove to be at the end of 80 minutes? Another Wirral penalty chance was squandered after 10 minutes following an excellent long-range attack from the visitors.
Wirral were to rue those chances when on 20 minutes Morpeth went through the phases applying pressure and winning a penalty that Ben Hornby converted. 8-0 Morpeth.
Another attacking scrum and subsequent pressure led to the visitors conceding a further penalty under the posts for Hornby to convert. 11-0 Morpeth on 25 minutes.
Good home defence couldn't prevent Wirral getting on the scoreboard when on 28 minutes they converted a penalty awarded at scrum time. 11-3.
Morpeth now stepped up a gear, but missed two scoring opportunities when first Ben Hornby, then scrum half Elliott, both made breaks which could and should have resulted in scores, as centre Brown provided a strong presence, but it wasn't to be.
Then on 40 minutes a scrum against the head saw Hornby converting another penalty.
Half time score - 14-3 Morpeth.
The second half saw Wirral come immediately back into the game as the home side's discipline fell away, conceding penalty after penalty, which not only disrupted the flow of the game but more importantly allowed Wirral to reduce the deficit to 14-9, as well as a sinbinning for the influential Josh Williams.
Basic plays were causing the home side problems, not straight at the line out followed by a penalty at scrum time increased their frustration as Wirral dominated possession.
A storming Cole Wilson run, who featured throughout, did provide some rest bite.
But as the pressure mounted on Morpeth prop Dickinson became their second sinbinning and something had to give, as Wirral got their just rewards with their second row crashing over for a converted score, giving them a 14-16 lead as the game moved into the final minutes.
One final Morpeth attack, a penalty chance, a long way out, but Hornby had, not only the skill but more importantly the composure, to slot it over, to give the home side the spoils.
Final score 17-16.
An important result, albeit the performance certainly didn't reach last week's efforts.
Scoops Man of the Match - Cole Wilson
1st XV v Billingham (A)
Bus leaves Morpeth RFC @ 11.30am & Gosforth Park Grand Hotel @ 11.50am to arrive Billingham RFC for 12.45pm ahead of a 2.15PM KICK-OFF – Greenwood Road, Billingham, TS23 4BA (50 miles)
Referee – Tom Doig
Squad of 18: A Telford, A Tait, J Ward, B Brown, Jake McKay, B Hornby, J Elliott, S Irving
C Wilson, C Hill (c), I Grieve, D Dickinson, S Long, I Burnham, J Williams, J Phillips, E Clark, J Millington
Billingham 33-10 1st XV
Morpeth made the relatively short trip south to Teesside to take on current league leaders Billingham in what proved to be an intriguing encounter. The match was played on their modern artificial surface which matched impressive surroundings.
Morpeth travelled with a much-changed team that saw them narrowly defeat Wirral the previous Saturday.
It only took 5 minutes before the league leaders got into their stride with almost their first attack, when, after going through the phases and decimating the Morpeth defence a kick through created an overlap as the Billingham centre touched down.5-0 It was excellent defending from Ward and Telford that prevented the home side scoring again almost directly from the restart. Yet further pressure was to follow, and it wasn't a surprise when Billingham increased their lead, with a rather fortunate score on 13 minutes. Morpeth winning an attacking Billingham lineout that bounced awkwardly for the home side to pounce upon and touch down for a converted try.12-0 The game took a significant turn when on 20 minutes Billingham lost their second row who was red carded for a high tackle forcing the Teessiders to play with 14 players for the remainder of the match. Ben Hornby converted the resulting penalty. 12-3.
The loss of a player did not prevent Billingham from dominating proceedings. Time after time fly half Peter Evans was able to push Morpeth back into the corners with a cultured kicking game. A further converted try came to the home side from an attacking line out after 25 minutes. 19-3.
They increased their lead on 35 minutes when from another attacking position Morpeth were caught napping when a quickly taken penalty resulted in another converted try. 26-3.
Morpeth's desperate defending proved costly when prop Dickinson was sin binned, but they still held firm till half-time with scrum half Elliott outstanding.
Half-time score 26-3.
Although they were winning their set ball Morpeth were unable to apply any pressure to a resolute Billingham outfit, despite them being a man down.
The second half began badly for Morpeth when the home side increased their lead following a missed tackle in the centre that saw Billingham go over for another converted try.33-3.
Morpeth then enjoyed their best spell playing in and around the opposition 22 area without having a cutting edge and then, when penalised, it was that man Evans who pushed them back with a relieving kick. But Morpeth were not to be denied and the strong running centre Bentley Brown crashed over on 75 minutes for Hornby to convert to make the final score, 33-10.
Morpeth generally looked solid in the set piece but were unable to pierce a well organised Billingham defence. Josh Williams and particularly Cole Wilson did pose a threat up front, while Bentley Brown ran strongly in the centre with scrum half Jack Elliott leading the defence with a typically wholehearted performance.
Scoops Man of the Match Cole Wilson
1st XV 19-17 Rossendale
On a cold and very wet Saturday afternoon Morpeth produced a dogged display to ultimately win the game with the very last play. Following a determined second half display the home side's spirit deserved something out of the game and so it proved, albeit a well organised Rossendale side may feel hard done to leave with just a losing bonus point.Read more
The match was played out in driving rain which caused players problems with numerous handling errors from both sides although Morpeth, particularly in the first half, struggled to retain possession with the visitors undoubtedly the better side.
Rossendale took the lead as early as the 3rd minute when from an attacking line out the forwards drove over for an unconverted try. 0-5.
Worse was to come for Morpeth when Rossendale increased their advantage when a grubber kick through wasn't dealt with by the home defence and saw left wing Peel touching down. It was a soft try to give away, but nobody could deny Rossendale's advantage. 0-10.
The game was hardly a classic as conditions worsened. Then, on 30 minutes with only their second visit to Rossendale's 22 metre area, an attacking line out created pressure to a Rossendale defence before conceding a penalty that fly half Ben Hornby converted from 25 metres. 3-10.
That remained the halftime score with the visitors thoroughly deserving their lead.
As the rain continued, so did the errors despite the endeavour shown from both sides. Morpeth then started putting Rossendale under pressure and on 48 minutes centre Bentley Brown, then second row Ben Jackson, made significant inroads causing Rossendale to offend and allow Hornby to further reduce the deficit. 6-10.
Almost immediately Morpeth gave the score away when a missed tackle in the centre allowed Rossendale to increase their lead with a converted try. 6-17.
Then all credit to the home side who started to dominate. The front row of Moody, skipper Hill and Wilson set the tone, with flanker Josh Williams always prominent, and thanks to Hornby and Elliott's prompting they reduced the deficit with a further penalty on 57 minutes. 9-17.
From the restart a Rossendale attack was immediately thwarted when the continually combative scrum half Jack Elliott ripped the ball back and set the home side back on the offensive and then on 61 minutes another Hornby penalty. 12-17.
The game went into the final minutes with Morpeth dominating, recycling and going through repeated phases camped on the Rossendale line, then with the last play of the game Sam Hornby, replacement right wing, did tremendously well to burrow over to level the scores. As the rain teemed down his brother Ben retained his composure to make the conversion and win the game -the Hornby's heroes - in tandem they dominated the scoring: Brothers in Arms.
Scoops Man of the Match - Josh Williams.
Lymm 42-23 1st XV
On World Cup semi-final day Morpeth made the long trip south west to play Lymm in their latest North Premier campaign. This was the first game the host club had played on their newly installed 3G pitch which only got officially accredited the previous day.
Morpeth started the brighter and on 6 minutes they took the lead. Scrum half Elliott ripped the ball clear and kicked towards the opposition line and as Lymm strived to clear their lines, they infringed at the breakdown, allowing fly half Hornby to convert the resulting penalty.0-3.
Yet Lymm struck back almost immediately, regaining possession from the kick off before spinning the ball wide, Morpeth missed a couple of tackles, as the home side took the lead with a converted try.7-3.
This lead was increased on 14 minutes where turn over ball at another break down allowed their speedy backs to go wide again for a 60-metre effort and an unconverted score.12-3 in Lymm's favour.
Yet Morpeth reacted with spirit led by the tenacious Elliott, sniping around causing questions of the home defence who conceded a penalty that Hornby converted on 16 minutes.12-6.
Then back came the home side in this topsy turvy encounter. From a scrum 30 metres out, they scored an unconverted try from the set play. 17-6.
Full back Telford was the instigator as Morpeth again cut the lead, with a kick and chase ahead, before Lymm conceded another penalty, this time for a high tackle. 17-9.
Then almost immediately Morpeth gave the score back by handling on the floor which saw Lymm maintain their 11-point advantage with a penalty. 20-9.
But the end of the first half scoring saw Morpeth right back in the game. An attacking scrum, number 8 Millington picked up and offloaded to Elliott who darted over, for a converted try. 20-16.
The second half started brightly for Morpeth when a Lymm sinbinning for a high tackle on Telford gave them a 10-minute numerical advantage. However, this only spurred on the home side who increased their lead when, from an attacking line out, the home side crashed over for a converted score. 27-16.
This lead was increased on 50 minutes when another Morpeth infringement saw Lymm convert a penalty from 30 metres out.30-16.
On 60 metres the scoring continued when a missed tackle in midfield allowed Lymm another score with an unconverted try.35-16.
But the visitors were not to be outdone, again showing good spirit and with 10 minutes remaining Ward intercepted in his own 22 before racing away to score for Hornby to add the extras. 35-23. Despite this late rally the home side were not to be denied victory, when on 75 minutes they secured the points they deserved, when they scored from an attacking line out. 42-23 being the full-time score.
Despite having a dominant scrum, Morpeth made too many mistakes against a home side who entertained with a pacey back line which caused significant problems throughout.
Scoops Man of the Match Jack Elliott.
1st XV 61-5 Tynedale Raiders
Whilst World Cup fever was gripping the England team Morpeth made yet another County Cup final with a comfortable victory against the Raiders. It is anticipated that the final will be played on the evening of Friday December 27th, at the Newcastle Falcons ground prior to the hosts playing Melrose on the Saturday in a match to aid the Doddie Weir charity.
To the game itself and Morpeth started brightly when on 2 minutes winger Jake Mackay touched down for Ben Hornby to add the extras. 7-0.
It only took another 5 minutes before Morpeth increased their lead when man of the match Jonny Ward crossed the whitewash. Ward was a threat all evening with Hornby on the mark to make it 14-0. Yet Morpeth were not having it all their own way in this high scoring encounter and the Raiders closed the gap with a try of their own.14-5 on 9 minutes.
The scores just kept on coming when on 13 minutes Ward again touched down for an unconverted try. 19-5.
Hornby then converted a penalty to take the score to 22-5, before scrum half Elliott got in on the action for a now rampant Morpeth outfit, with Hornby wide with the conversion; but the fly half was not to outdone and finished the half with a try of his own - naturally he added the extras!
The second half mirrored the first as Morpeth took complete control of the game with tries coming at regular intervals through Ward, yet again, Hornby, Elliott Clark and then with McKay who started it all, making the last touchdown. The final score an emphatic 61-5.
Scoops Man of the Match Jonny Ward
1st XV 12-34 Blaydon
In a week that saw a considerable amount of rain Morpeth were able to provide an excellent playing surface, ‘over the road,' where they took on highflying Blaydon in another North Premier encounter. Prior to the league structure the two teams met on regular occasions and it was good to see that rivalry restored.Read more
It was a match where Blaydon provided some class outside, players comfortable on the ball and always playing with pace. Blaydon were happy to kick the ball deep and ask Morpeth questions which in the end remained unanswered, albeit the home scrummage caused the Durham side problems. Playing in the right areas was a key component of the game.
Morpeth started the game brightly, a huge attacking scrum caused Blaydon to concede a penalty try on 4 minutes. 7-0. It was a lead short lived when Blaydon hit back with two scores inside 12 minutes, one of which was converted to give them a 7-12 advantage.
Yet Morpeth continued their forward dominance for the ebullient skipper Hill to crash over and equalise the scores at 12-12 with only 16 minutes played.
But as the game developed the pacey Blaydon outfit pulled away with two further scores before the interval making it 12-24 in the visitors’ favour.
The second half saw the home side never give up but also never able to fully threaten the visitors lead who pulled away with a converted try and ended the game with a penalty for a comfortable win.
Scoops Man of the Match Josh Williams
1st XV 12-14 Sandal
Mid November is not a bad time to take stock of league positions and while it is impossible to bank on certainties, considering injuries, availability and some luck, etc. previous years would suggest that positions may not change a great deal as the season plays out.Read more
Morpeth currently sit third bottom but with 7 other teams around them, all within a win of each other, a mid-table spot come the end of April, is not beyond them: anything more would be an excellent return. They have proved they can more than compete at this level and can secure their position in North Premier. That said purely taking yesterday's performance in isolation a final mid table position is questionable. It was a game Morpeth could and should have won, but ultimately, they got what they deserved. Taking this season in context there have been a couple of last minute one-point home wins that have gone Morpeth's way.
On a superb pitch, considering the weather, Sandal kicked off in atrociously wet and gloomy conditions that existed throughout, indeed it was positively dark as the game moved into the final quarter.
The brave faithful spectators didn't have to wait long before the first score, when on 5 minutes, a painfully slow move, to allow a Morpeth clearance kick was charged down allowing Sandal centre Macgregor to gather and score for an unconverted try.0-5.
Remarkably much of play centred around the halfway line. Elliott briefly threatened for the home side, breaking and offloading for Moody to make further yards. Then on 14 minutes Morpeth took the lead, when the abrasive centre Brown latched onto a Sandal mistake, intercepted and raced over from halfway to score beneath the posts.7-5.
Then the game was lifted from the gloom on 18 minutes when Morpeth scored an excellent try. On or around Sandal's 22, Long won an excellent line out, good hands saw the ball go wide, then Ward appeared on the outside from his wing to send McKay over wide out. 12-5.
Notably of the game's 3 tries this was the only one created, the others were by way of mistakes.
Halftime score 12-5.
Morpeth replaced Donnelly with Dynan and Dickinson for Moody at the start of the second half which started badly for the home side conceding a Sandal penalty which closed the gap to 4 points.12-8.
Morpeth then had the pressure to score, a kick to the corner rather than a penalty chance was the call, but unfortunately, they couldn't force the score that would probably have settled matters and back came a spirited Sandal outfit.
On 65 minutes Morpeth literally gave away a penalty, were marched back another 10 metres, the Sandal attempt chance hit the post, Morpeth failed to clear and then, yet another penalty saw Sandal one point behind. 12-11.
On a day when conditions cried out to get behind the opposition, make them turn and if they can score from a long way out, then so be it: Morpeth just couldn't manage the game, particularly as the penalty count increased.
There was an air of inevitability about the manner the game ended, another successful penalty saw Sandal deserving victory.
Whilst Williams and Wilson impressed in the forwards and Telford did everything and more on a difficult day for full backs, it would be impossible to pick a man of the match, and therefore this week's award goes off piste:- Scoops award goes jointly to Trevor and Lisa Watson for their continual off the field support and contribution to Morpeth RFC.