Fitting end as teens become champions

The Morpeth RFC U16 squad with the County Cup.
The Morpeth RFC U16 squad with the County Cup.

Morpeth 17 Tynedale 17 U16 County Cup final

Following a semi-final victory against Northern, Morpeth U16s faced a strong Tynedale team in the Northumberland County Cup Final, which was played on Sunday.

The match was played at Druid Park, home of Gosforth Rugby team, just a few yards from Newcastle Airport.

The wet conditions saw a rather scrappy first 15 minutes with both teams spilling the ball.

After intelligent running play from Morpeth backs, they were awarded a penalty which was duly converted by the reliable foot of fly-half Rory Smith.

Despite strong defensive play from both teams, it was Morpeth’s line which was breached when Tynedale spun the ball from one side of the field to the Morpeth five-metre line to the other and then drove the ball over the Morpeth try-line.

Undeterred, the Morpeth team regrouped and decisive play was awarded with a second penalty which cleanly sailed through the perpendicular uprights to bring back the advantage to Morpeth, 6-5 which was where the score remained when the shrill sound of the referee’s whistle marked the end of the first half.

Both teams started the second half strongly with first blood going to the Mitford Road U16s thanks to a third Smith penalty.

Minutes later, the Morpeth forwards’ determined drive saw them breach the Tynedale try-line with Brown emerging from the heaped stack of forwards as the try-scorer.

With a deficit of 5-14 points, Tynedale showed determination and resilience as they sprinted down the field to score a try which brought the score to 14-10 in favour of Morpeth.

As the match reached the closing stages, the referee awarded a penalty to Morpeth and Smith’s dependable boot struck with accuracy to increase the Morpeth lead to 17-10.

The sense of tension throughout the ground was tangible as Morpeth’s fortitude and strong tackling were put to the test by Tynedale.

A final flourish from Tynedale saw them break through and score a last-gasp try which was converted to leave the score at 17-17.

After consultation with both captains, the referee decreed the match to be a draw with both teams crowned as U16 county champions for 2014.

Colin Belfield, Morpeth U16 head coach, said: “I am incredibly proud of the whole squad of boys who have achieved such a momentous achievement at the end of this season.

“This was the last match the team will play as juniors, as many of them will now move up to the Morpeth Colts side.

“It is this team’s first County Cup win and quite fitting that it should come at the end of many years together as a squad.”

The parents and players paid tribute to Colin Belfield and all the coaching team who have put in so much over the years to this team and whose commitment and dedication to the team has been appreciated by all.

The squad are looking forward to their end of season presentation evening on Saturday, May 17, at Morpeth Rugby Club.