Morpeth 18 Alnwick 17 North One East
Morpeth completed their home league programme with a hard-fought but deserved win against their closest rivals.
In one of the club’s oldest established fixtures, it is poignant and significant that it continues to produce an intense rivalry and that the Brett Horse and the Dave Routledge trophy for the man-of-the-match provide the silverware.
However, the Mitford Road men are almost certain to be relegated despite coming out on top on Saturday. They need a bonus point win in their last game of the season away to Wheatley Hills, Sheffield to lose at home to Pocklington without scoring a bonus point and the points difference gap of 39 to be overhauled in the process.
The home side dominated the early stages of the derby clash, but a lack of creativity and composure meant they did not take the lead.
They fell behind when Alnwick took a quick penalty from deep in their own half. The visitors kicked long and outpaced a non-existent home defence to score underneath the posts for a converted try.
This Morpeth side does not lack spirit and they returned to dominate possession. After camping on Alnwick’s line, Forsythe forced his way over, with Phillips converting the score.
Both sides swapped penalties before half-time to make it 10-10 at the break.
The second half proved to be incredibly exciting. The hosts took the lead when full-back Parkinson showed a moment of class with an outside break and off-load that saw right-wing Duncan score in the corner.
Although this try was not converted, further forward pressure gave Phillips the chance to convert a penalty and the ball went successfully over via a deflection off the post (18-10).
Alnwick then scored a try and the successful conversion, also off the post, reduced the lead to one point with five minutes remaining.
In injury time, Morpeth conceded a penalty and the away side went for goal – unfortunately for them, the kick went wide and the final whistle was then blown.
The game was a fitting tribute to Dave Routledge, a former player for both clubs and a county referee, but more importantly a very much respected human being.