Ladies edge closer to the top of the league

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Morpeth Ladies 17 Darlington Ladies 12 National League Two North

MORPETH are now just two points from the top of the league after a hard-fought home victory.

From the kick-off, Morpeth were the first to attack but they found it difficult to make ground against a strong-tackling Darlington back-row and a war of attrition ensued as neither side gave an inch.

The hosts had chances, including when captain Kate Hall found some space and made a fantastic break from the Morpeth 22 to the five metre line, but they could not find the breakthrough.

However, with the first half drawing to a close, some good approach work by the Morpeth forwards was rewarded when the ball was worked along the three-quarter line to winger Diane Purvis.

She found the space to beat the defender and open the scoring with a deserved try to give the home side a 5-0 half-time lead.

With the forwards picking up where they left off in the second half, coupled with some direct running from the three-quarters, it was no surprise when Morpeth increased their lead through a well-taken try by full-back Ebony Gray, following a break and offload by Rachel Best, whose conversion made it 12-0.

But this had the effect of stirring Darlington into action and within minutes a counter-attack from their fly-half Jo Mann resulted in a try.

Morpeth’s next score followed a sweeping run around Darlington’s back line by prop-forward Helen Osborne, who inexplicably offloaded to scrum-half Nadia McPherson when over the try-line herself.

The visitors came back again and after a spell of possession, substitute Tracey Kelly scored a try in the 69th minute. This was converted to bring the score to 17-12.

The final 10 minutes saw Darlington repeatedly attack the Morpeth line, which was met with determined defence.

A break from a five-metre scrum was held up over the try line by Jade Tipping and Cheryl McAlpine and the hosts were relieved to hear the final whistle. Forward-of-the-match went to Hannah Lines and back-of-the-match to Phillipa Shell.

Morpeth’s next match is at Mitford Road on Sunday when Sheffield Ladies will make the trip north. Kick-off is 2pm.