Morpeth Colts 34 Alnwick Colts 26
SATURDAY saw Morpeth Colts in league action for the first time in 2012 against neighbours Alnwick.
Their last meeting had ended with the Mitford Road youngsters losing a close match 7-0 and, with Alnwick’s first team recently beating Morpeth’s first team and winning back the Brett Horse, this fixture meant a lot more than just league points to both sides.
The visitors got the game under way with the home team playing with the stiff breeze at their backs. The pack took the ball cleanly and set up the platform for the backs to play off, with fly-half Tapscott immediately looking for quick ball to release centre Scott who made an impressive break, putting Alnwick on the back foot.
The forwards won good ball in the ruck enabling scrum-half Telford quick ball, getting Morpeth into the Alnwick half.
The backs were playing with pace and purpose, Tapscott ran a lovely switch with Scott and then the ball was spun wide to outside-centre Tait who, showing a good burst of pace, out-ran the defence to score just to the left of the posts with barely two minutes on the clock, Tapscott added the extras to make it 7-0.
This seemed to stun the visitors into life and they started to play with some real determination, putting together some impressive phases of play, but they were met with a resolute defence who managed to repel everything thrown at them.
The home team did threaten to break free with the ball on a couple of occasions during this phase of the game but were thwarted by some poor handling and a strong defence.
On 23 minutes, with Alnwick deep in the Morpeth half, they managed to work their way to within 10 metres of the home try-line where they were awarded a scrum after a messy ruck.
Morpeth needlessly conceded a penalty from this scrum, which the visitors took quickly and, despite the attention from the defenders, they managed to crash over and score. With the visitors converting, it was now 7-7.
Morpeth lifted their game again and defended bravely against a rejuvenated Alnwick team putting bodies on the line and making some big tackles.
One such tackle came from full-back Donaghy, who unfortunately had to leave the field with a fracture to his shoulder such was the ferocity of the encounter.
He was replaced by Callum Duncan who started to make an immediate impact.
With Morpeth now winning the ball back, it was spun wide and with Duncan popping up on the wing he made good yards down the touch-line managing to get the ball inside to support runner Courtney Gibbon, who ran in for a popular score.
Tapscott stepped up for the conversion. Unfortunately, he must have changed his boots for clogs as his kick inexplicably almost hit the corner flag making the score 12-7 to Morpeth.
He did manage to redeem himself six minutes later just before half-time, though, when he kicked a penalty from just inside the visiting 10-metre line ending the half at 15-7.
Changes were made at half-time, with Birch coming on for Lyall in the back-row, Lemin, Stansfield and Reed on for Grieve, Stoker and Gallagher in the front-row, Elliott and Parsons replacing half-backs Telford and Tapscott and Stewart and Manley replacing wingers Evans and Gibbon.
The game continued to be played at a ferocious pace, with both teams contributing to an entertaining spectacle. However, it was the home side who were first to score in this half.
Elliott and Parsons were working well together with the latter adding more pace to the back-line. The ball went wide, finding Duncan coming in from full-back. He outpaced the Alnwick winger and powered over in the corner to score. With the conversion missed, it was now 20-7.
What followed was probably the best passage of play in the match for Morpeth.
Parsons was now in control and was releasing centres Scott and Tait, who were cutting through the visiting defence almost at will.
On one such run, Tait brought Duncan into play. He ran from the Morpeth halfway line only to be held up by the Alnwick full-back in the visitors’ 22. However, Scott had gone with him and was on hand to gratefully receive the pass and run in between the posts to score.
With the extras added, it was now 27-7.
It took another three minutes for Morpeth to score an almost identical try. Again, with play broken up, the ball found Tait who this time took the run from halfway himself to be held up by the covering defender in the away 22. He had Scot on hand to pass to and he ran in his second try between the posts, Parsons adding the two points to make it 34-7.
In the last 10 minutes, more changes were made, however, Alnwick were not beaten yet and refused to lie down. They set about turning the game on its head.
In a worrying passage of play for the home supporters, Alnwick managed to run in three tries of their own, two of which they converted making the final score 34-26 to Morpeth.
A very entertaining game indeed for both sets of supporters, Morpeth now look forward to playing Westoe away on Saturday.