Medicals Serpents 15 Morpeth Stags 19 Northumberland RFU Coquet League
BY the end of this season, all that will be remembered about this game will be the scoreline, and the manner of the victory and Medicals’ performance will be forgotten.
The early exchanges saw the visitors on the front foot with some big yards gained with strong running.
Morrison was the first to force his way through a tackle, but white line fever took over and he missed Rank on his inside shoulder who had a free run under the posts.
An awkward engagement at the scrum saw Oakey withdrawn to be replaced by Willis, who went on to dominate his opposite number.
More strong running from forwards and backs alike saw Hearne crashing over for his second try in three games to put Morpeth in front.
The Serpents came back into it as the Stags started to drop off some tackles.
They started to open up and although there was some excellent cover defence from Cox to force a couple of extra phases, the home side crashed over out wide.
Soon it was the Stags on the attack with phase after phase battering the line.
After two seemingly stonewall tries not given, Rank bowled over in a pile of bodies and looked for all the world to be held up only for the referee to be in a fantastic position to give the try, with Cox tacking on the extras.
These points put Morpeth 12-5 ahead into the half-time break.
In the second half, the Stags retained their upper hand in the tight and the scrum remained dominant, but as the home side upped the tempo, they started to take over the game.
However, the visitors scored what turned out to be a crucial try when after a sustained period of pressure around the five metre line and two knock-ons from attempted push-overs, Dilger, on for the injured Rank, forced his way over.
Cox maintained his 100 per cent record with the boot to get the conversion.
As the penalty count rose, the students had the lion’s share of territory and possession, but some excellent defensive work kept them at bay.
The pressure eventually told when the Stags turned the ball over and the Medicals’ back three made inroads before the hooker piled over for another unconverted try.
Another Medicals try followed as they asserted more and more pressure, but the Stags showed their experience in the last 10 minutes as they withstood everything that the home side could throw at them, making tackle after tackle and slowing the ball down legally.
All in all, the Stags should feel lucky to have won this game, but that takes nothing away from the character of the display and the sheer bloody minded defence which closed out the game.
Back row Hughes was Morpeth’s man-of-the-match.