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.
Ilkley 9-24 1st XV
Apart from the weather there was very little to compare Morpeth's performance today from last Saturday's defeat against Sandal. This was a comfortable and well-deserved victory played on a pitch that despite the atrocious weather was in superb condition.
It was also a day when fly half Ben Hornby played his 200th first XV game, a significant achievement from a player who has been totally dedicated to Morpeth RFC, having come through the ranks, as a mini, junior and then colt before progressing to first team honours.
Despite the conditions this was an entertaining encounter, a testimony to both sides, and played in excellent spirit. The Morpeth cause was also helped by the considerable support from the club's U13s, U15s, and U18s Girls Section on a weekend tour of Yorkshire.
It was Ilkley who began the brighter, moving the ball around, they came against an excellently organised and committed Morpeth defence. As well as first up tackling flanker Craigs brought significant applause from the large crowd with a huge left footed clearing kick. Then on 10 minutes it was Morpeth who took the lead, with almost their first attack. On the Ilkley 10 metre line from set play, fly half Hornby set centre Bentley Brown on a storming run through the Ilkley midfield, a superb offload to Alex Tait, saw the centre storm over near the posts for Hornby to add the extras. 0-7.
Morpeth's defence held firm against some excellent handling and offloading by the home side in a free flowing first half. However, Ilkley bounced back with two penalties in quick succession, reducing the deficit to 6-7 after 30 minutes.
It was after the second of these scores that the home side failed to deal with the restart that allowed Hornby to slot over a well struck effort to make the halftime score 6-10.
The second half belonged to Morpeth who ultimately ran away with the game. Playing in the right areas throughout and helped by a more than significant effort from a dominant scrum, a key feature in winning the points, Morpeth dominated both in terms of possession and points. There was an outstanding effort by a back row of Williams, Dynan and Craigs in particular, who was at the heart of most things delivered.
Four or five Morpeth attacking scrums took place before the inevitable happened and a penalty try was awarded. 6-17.
Although the home side continued doggedly and reduced the deficit with a penalty making it 9-17. The Morpeth front row had the final say, firstly a good Elliott nudge deep into the opposition 22 saw an Ilkley clearance followed by an excellent counter attack with Telford and then Ward making a significant incursion which ensured another attacking scrum which Ilkley just couldn't defend. Dynan expertly controlling and then touching down for another push over score for, 200-man Hornby to convert.
Final score 9-24.
An excellent controlled and managed performance from Morpeth who thoroughly deserved their win. In a day of notable performances there were some stand outs - Craigs had an outstanding 80 minutes, however, on reflection the game was taken from the home side by a dominant set piece, particularly at scrum time .
Scoops Man of the Match Tony Moody
Thursday 28th November Senior County Cup Final
Alnwick v Morpeth – 7.30pm kick-off @ Alnwick RFC
Match Entry will be £5 per head.
1 bus for players & spectators will leave the club @ 5.40pm prompt & will then leave Alnwick RFC @ 10.15pm.
Any spectator who would like to book a space on the bus please text John Stafford 07968 161085 by Wednesday 27th of November by noon.
Thursday 28th November Result
Alnwick 10-11 1st XV
Jonny Ward – 1 try
Ben Hornby – 2 penalties
Dave Routledge MOM – Cole Wilson
Senior County Cup Champions & retain Brett Silver Horse
Well done to all involved!!
Alnwick 10-11 1st XV
Morpeth won the Northumberland Senior Cup by the closest of margins in a tense encounter. This was a match that could have gone either way, but Alnwick will feel, given they had the better of the clear-cut chances, it was a match they should have won.
Given the conditions it was never going to be a classic encounter, very wet under foot and bitterly cold it became a matter of which side would make the least mistakes. The game seemed a continent away from last season's final between the two sides at a balmy Berwick.
It was Alnwick who started the game on the front foot, but matters were brought to a stuttering halt when two floodlights failed. However, the match continued, testament to both the referee and the excellent spirit between the two sides.
After the restart Alnwick continued to dominate with a serious of rucks on or around the Morpeth line; going over the line but held up. In the face of this onslaught Morpeth defended magnificently and then, when they eventually won a scrum Dynan made a superb break from number 8 to relieve the intense pressure. He continually featured throughout the night.
It was then Morpeth's turn to attack and when a forward foray into Alnwick's half caused the home side to offend. Ben Hornby struck an excellent penalty for Morpeth to take the lead.0-3.
It was Dynan again, who turned villain, when he gave away a poor penalty on 15 minutes giving Alnwick the opportunity to equalise. 3-3.
Much of play was in and around the halfway mark but some strong running from prop Cole Wilson assisted by Dynan put Alnwick under pressure in their own 22.Then an excellent break out, coupled with some surprisingly poor Morpeth defence, the home side broke clear kicked ahead, won a lineout in Morpeth's 22 , before finally crashing over for a try wide out followed by an excellent conversion after 30 minutes. 7-3.
This remained the halftime score.
Alnwick started the brighter in the second half, after a Craigs sin bin. Then, after a series of attacking scrums, they were rewarded with a penalty on 52 minutes. 10-3.
Back came Morpeth, wining turn-over ball Williams linked with the dangerous Ward who outpaced the home defence to score wide out. 10-8.
Morpeth were now on top and further sustained pressure saw the cool head of Hornby put them just ahead. 10-11.
Back came the home side with some excellent kicks putting Morpeth under intense pressure. On 75 minutes a Morpeth charged down kick, then chase ahead it seemed inevitable that Alnwick would score beneath the posts, only for a knock forward denying them of what would have been a match winning score.
Then again on 79 minutes an attacking scrum saw Morpeth penalised. A penalty chance for Alnwick to win the game, but it went just wide.
A cup final win for Morpeth, but only just!
Scoops Man of Match Ollie Dynan - despite indiscretions the good far outweighed the bad!
1st XV 12-17 Kirkby Lonsdale
Morpeth will be bitterly disappointed not to have come away with more than a losing bonus point, in an evenly matched game where the visitors deserved the win by defending better than the home side, particularly at crucial points in the game.Read more
It was a strange match particularly in the first 30 minutes which was largely uneventful and punctuated by frequent handling errors from both sides. There was no lack of effort or endeavour but little in terms of quality.
Kirkby Lonsdale, from one of the few moments of enterprise, went over on 20 minutes to be pulled back for a foot in touch. Then on 30 minutes Morpeth got a foothold in the opposition 22, backs and forwards ran through the phases, centre Tait went close before Dynan, showed good strength, dragging two men with him as he just made it to the line.
The score remained unaltered as the referee blew for halftime.
The second half proved a brighter affair and Morpeth started the better, retaining possession and allowing Long, Williams and Dynan to make inroads before Kirkby's elegant centre, Scott Armstrong cleverly broke clear on 45 minutes before handing on to score as Morpeth's last line of defence was for once, found wanting. The try was followed by a successful conversion. 5-7.
Morpeth again applied the pressure, home centre Tait went close, yet the visitors defence, both tenacious and organised held out before a Morpeth pass, not for the first time, went astray. Kirkby broke out and kicked ahead and that saw Morpeth defending desperately. They conceded both a penalty and a sinbinning, as McKay, took one for the team.
The penalty was converted to make the score 5-10.
Kirkby were now on top and on 60 minutes increased their lead with another well worked score near the posts which in effect sealed the game.
It was too much too late in terms of a win, but it showed the home side's spirit and secured a bonus point when winger Ward scored by the posts for Ben Hornby to convert.
Final score 12-17.
Harrogate 13-3 1st XV
Morpeth travelled to high flying Harrogate with a slightly changed backline due to injury, illness and unavailability. The match took place on a bitterly cold day with the spectacle not helped by a strong cross wind producing heavy showers throughout the game.Read more
Ultimately it was a match that Morpeth could have won. They easily dominated, in terms of territory, were at least equal in terms of possession, but were taught a significant lesson in making the most of their opportunities.
The first half started with both sides coming to terms with the tricky conditions. But on 10 minutes with almost their first incursion in the Morpeth 22, Harrogate took the lead with a well taken score. They began to run through the phases, stretching the defence when Back row Dodds took an excellent line, galloping in and scoring underneath the posts for a converted try to give his side a 10-point lead.
It was interesting to note that the game in the first half was crammed into one side of the pitch largely due to the strong cross wind. Yet it was Morpeth who dominated territory but hardly ever really threatened the home line. On 20 minutes Sam Hornby took a line that saw him come just short. Then Number 8 Dynan and prop Cole Wilson produced strong running for the Mitford Road outfit but ultimately Morpeth didn't create chances being unable to convert pressure into points, with only a Ben Hornby penalty to show for their efforts. 7-3 on 35 minutes.
It had to be said that Harrogate's defence was both resilient and well organised.
Worse was to come for Morpeth when, just before the interval Harrogate increased their lead, when they made inroads into Morpeth's half and converted another penalty. It was a classic of taking your chances.10-3 the halftime score.
The second half saw Morpeth again take the initiative and on 55 minutes Hornby was wide with a penalty opportunity. Yet again they failed to really threaten the Harrogate line despite playing with endeavour and passion. Apart from a couple of wayward kicks, full back Telford provide a sound performance and Elliott scrapped it out at scrum half with a determined display. Great credit also to Simon Manley who, despite a lack of game time, played well.
The game and a possible bonus point disappeared for Morpeth when on 75 minutes a well struck penalty saw Harrogate to a match winning lead and final score of 13-3.
Scoops Man of the Match Jack Elliott
1st XV 10-13 Macclesfield
Happy New Year!Read more
In many ways this was a strange match to greet 2020 with Morpeth eventually losing by a narrow margin. No one could deny that the better side deserved to win, indeed at halftime the visitors must have been wondering how on earth, they were only a single try to the good; as a mixture of poor finishing and wrong options against desperate home defending, saw them frustrated.
The second half saw a reinvigorated Morpeth side, shake off the festive lethargy to really,' take it,' to the opposition. Indeed a 3-point chance with a final penalty, which if taken, would have given the home side a draw that looked hardly likely at halftime.
A kick for the corner was the preferred option?
The game began with Morpeth kicking towards the changing rooms. On 4 minutes the game sprung into life, Dynan, outstanding, but more importantly, disciplined throughout, timed his pickup from number 8 perfectly to go on a rampaging run that took him close to the line, only for Macclesfield full back Longworth to defend superbly.
Then Macclesfield really took the game to Morpeth as backs and forwards combined to pressurise the home defence with centre Sam Hornby making two crucial interceptions preventing certain scores.
Just when it looked as though Morpeth could hold out to halftime ironically a simple one up missed tackle allowed Macclesfield to take a deserved lead with an unconverted try on 40 minutes. 0-5.
The second half proved a different affair with Morpeth producing a spirited display, particularly when on 55 minutes the home side conceded a controversial try which appeared to be a case of crossing as centre Broster took full advantage to storm over. 0-10.
But back came Morpeth with replacement half backs Irving and Simpson proving both composed and competent. Home pressure allowed McKay to be just short with a long-range effort before Morpeth scored a well worked try, when from a lineout on the Macclesfield 22, first Millington broke clear before handing onto the ever-alert Dynan to touch down for McKay to add a further two points with a well struck conversion. 7-10.
Then with impressive full back Telford coming to the fore with linking runs and forwards Dickinson and Dynan, helped by centre Brown, began to create pressure on the visitors for McKay to make the scores level with another penalty.10-10.
The visitors, thanks to the probing of scrum half Stelmaszek, an outstanding performer on the day, were able to increase their lead with a penalty on 72 minutes. 10-13.
It led to a frantic final few minutes and that final penalty decision to end the 80 minutes, with the visitors thoroughly deserving their win.
Scoops Man of the Match Ollie Dynan.
Blackburn 58-33 1st XV
It was a severe case of too little too late for a Morpeth side that made the long journey to the north west to take on a strong Blackburn outfit, who ran out comfortable winners against the Mitford Road outfit who worked hard to come away with a losing bonus point that may prove to be vital in their quest to remain in North Premier.
After a difficult journey Morpeth faced a strong wind in the first half, with conditions being a feature throughout. Ultimately the first 15 minutes or so separated the sides with the home side completely dominant. It was a deficit that Morpeth could never recover from. The situation was made worse with the loss of strong running centre Bentley Brown.
Albeit they had faced the strong wind in the first 40 minutes a score line of 31-12 in Blackburn's favour put the match beyond Morpeth.
With the help of the elements in the second half the scoring was almost level. Morpeth showing some spirit in securing a late 4 try bonus point.
Scorers on the day Ollie Dynan, Cole Wilson, Jake Jardine, Sam Hornby and Jake McKay who also kicked 4 conversions.
Scoops Man of the Match Cole Wilson
1st XV 8-17 Alnwick
With both sides involved in a struggle to maintain their North Premier league status this was a crucial encounter. This, together with the long rivalry between the two sides attracted a bumper crowd to Mitford Road when both teams took the field, on a clear but cold January Saturday.Read more
Although the game itself was never a classic, Alnwick were fully deserving of their victory despite a spirited Morpeth side, who threatened for periods but were ultimately outdone by their well organised and more enterprising opposition.
It was Alnwick who dominated the early stages and took the lead on 10 minutes, when scrum half Moralee, the classiest player on view, broke blind on a stunning run that eventually won his side an attacking line out from where Alnwick rumbled over, through skipper Hamish Burn, for a converted score. 0-7.
Morpeth then got a foothold in the game, when the Morpeth back row of Williams, Dynan and Craigs threatened the home defence who conceded a penalty that Jake McKay confidently converted from some 30 metres. 3-7.
The score gave the home side confidence with right wing Sam Hornby coolly taking a misguided Alnwick kick then setting off on a clever run.
Alnwick then turned the screw as the match moved towards the interval running through several phases close to Morpeth's line where a well organised, determined home defence frantically repelled several attacking phases.
Halftime score 3-7.
Morpeth began the second half kicking towards the changing rooms and were the most prominent side immediately after the interval. The pressure was rewarded on 50 minutes when from an attacking line out, second row Millington crashed over. 8-7.
Immediately from the restart a cardinal Morpeth error allowed Alnwick a penalty chance which was squandered. The restart had given an opportunity for the home side, now in the lead, to clear their lines and get straight back into the opposition half, but that had disappeared without trace. Although that penalty was missed this seemed to galvanise an Alnwick side continually prompted by Moralee.
On 58 minutes Alnwick took the lead when numerous phases and then quick hands gave left wing George Brewis the chance to run clear and touchdown wide out. 8-12.
Alnwick were now on top as Morpeth's Millington was very fortunate just to escape with a sinbinning after offending close on the home 22 metre line.
It was now some excellent defending from 14-man Morpeth, before on 70 minutes Moralee sealed victory after some extended phases of play released him with time and space to beat the last defender and score. 8-17.
The game ended with Morpeth restored to 15 players camped in Alnwick's half in a determined to win a bonus point, but it was not to be, and the best side won on the day.
Dave Routledge, much respected past member of both clubs, man of the match trophy Alnwick's Peter Moralee.
Scoops Morpeth Man of the Match Cole Wilson.