Morpeth 23 Malton and Norton 6 North One East
MORPETH kicked off their league campaign with a hard-fought but ultimately convincing win against the Yorkshiremen, writes Tom Green.
It was a deserved victory coming about through enterprising rugby, particularly in the opening salvos when the game probably was won and lost.
The pitch was in an excellent condition, testimony to the work and dedication of John Dungait, and in what could only be described as blustery conditions Morpeth kicked off facing the elements.
Only three minutes into the game and with some spectators still taking to their seats, the hosts drew first blood when – from an attacking line-out – hooker Hill drove over after well organised forward play.
Hill, a recent recruit, was always to the forefront throughout the match with a more than promising display. Jinks missed the conversion, however he soon had the opportunity to make amends.
From a hanging up and under, centre Lynn jumped high and plucked the ball out of the air before making ground and off-loading to Manley, who ran well all afternoon.
He passed the ball out to full-back Francis, who raced over to score.
Two tries in the first 10 minutes was sterling stuff from the home side and although Jinks again failed to make the conversion, he later scored a penalty to make it 13-0 after 15 minutes.
It was then that Malton and Norton came into the game and it was only desperate defending by Morpeth that prevented them from reducing the deficit further than the two converted penalties at half-time.
The second half saw Morpeth eventually run out comfortable victors. Jinks increased the lead with a penalty and although both Francis and Manley threatened with their attacking running, the match was eventually settled with a Phillips try.
The visitors cleared downfield to right wing Stu Hills and he made good yardage before offloading to Francis. He seared through the defence and handed on to Phillips who crashed over for an excellent score, which Jinks converted to make the score 23-6.
The Mitford Road men pressed hard for a bonus point that never quite came, however this was a good start to the campaign which promises to be as tight as ever.