Morpeth in driving seat on day one

Lynas Francis going for the line for Morpeth in their match against Gosforth. Photo by Keith Robertson.
Lynas Francis going for the line for Morpeth in their match against Gosforth. Photo by Keith Robertson.
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Morpeth 36 Gosforth 6 Northumberland County Cup Quarter-Finals

EVEN the ‘great’ British summer failed to put a dampener on Morpeth’s curtain-raiser as they cruised to victory, writes Tom Green.

Although Gosforth stuck to their task well and came back in the second half, Morpeth rallied in the later stages and their superior power saw the visitors washed away on a rainy afternoon at Mitford Road.

The key score came just before the hour-mark, with Karl Campbell crashing over following a sustained attack from the hosts in Gosforth’s 22. The try halted the visitors’ attempts at a comeback, which had seen them register two penalties before the interval and a certain degree of territorial dominance in the period immediately afterwards.

However, this five-pointer proved a catalyst for Morpeth to kick on, Farah-esque, as Gosforth’s defensive dam wilted and the floodgates opened.

With Ben Hornby coming off the bench to add an extra dimension to the three-quarters, a try from James Phillips followed.

Rory Morrison, switching to the helm of the pack, got in on the action as he touched down from the back of the Morpeth scrum – Niall Allen’s muscle in the front row helping to push the home side over from five metres out.

By the time Simon Manley picked a delicious line to burst through under the posts, Morpeth’s ascendancy was fully established and they were in the driving seat.

The platform for the victory had already been set in the first half. Andrew Shippen powered over for Morpeth’s first, and then Lynas Francis crossed the whitewash following a well-executed blindside move. It was reminiscent of Israel Dagg’s recent exploits in the Rugby Championship, and a just reward for admirable attacking endeavour in the face of adverse weather conditions.

Indeed, on a day that saw a Premier League fixture across the water at the Stadium of Light postponed, Morpeth’s expansive style of play should be applauded.

Supporters will hope for similar ambition – and perhaps, meteorologically, the hint of an Indian summer – when Malton visit Mitford Road for the league opener on Saturday.