Northern 20 Morpeth 16 North One East
MORPETH made the short journey to their closest current rivals Northern with what looked like a strong line-up, albeit missing the controlling influence of midfield general Tom Wilkinson.
It was a fine afternoon at McCracken Park and things started off looking bright for the visitors.
Although Northern pressed from the off, a Hornby interception put the Mitford Road side ahead.
The centre gathered the ball and showed good pace by racing over from 45 metres and touching down under the posts to allow Morpeth to race to a seven-point lead, with Phillips converting.
This lead was short-lived as Northern hit back within two minutes when a line-out driving maul and good work by the backs saw a try in the left corner which was expertly converted.
And it was the home side which continued to look threatening with a back-line that looked both pacey and full of ideas.
After 20 minutes, they deservedly took the lead – this time the forwards providing the points with a driving maul from an attacking line-out. Although the conversion was again from wide out, it was successful, making the score 14-7.
The remainder of the half saw Morpeth initially come back with a Phillips penalty, which was equalised by a similar Northern score making it 17-10 to the hosts at half-time.
The second half failed to produce much in the way of scoring, but was nonetheless very exciting as a Phillips penalty brought the away side back to within four points of Northern, who then hit back with a penalty of their own making the score 20-13 with 10 minutes to go.
It was then that the game ended in tremendous excitement.
Firstly, Morpeth got a penalty close in with seven minutes to go which again the reliable Phillips slotted over.
Morpeth continued to press going into the final play with two attacking line-outs and a further scrum, but they were held up over the line on this play, meaning a losing bonus point was scant reward for a lot of effort against a side who were always providing a threat.