Northern 3 Morpeth 17 North One East
MORPETH put in a solid performance at McCracken Park and came away with an important victory.
It was a dull, overcast afternoon with a constant drizzle and at times a stiff breeze blowing.
The visitors, looking to build on last week’s win at home to Old Crossleyans, kicked off with the advantage of the breeze and were immediately on the attack.
A defensive Northern scrum came under pressure, Richie Armstrong stole the ball and the hosts were penalised.
Matty Jinks kicked over the penalty to give his side the lead after three minutes.
With young Nick Birch doing well at the line-out and the Morpeth front row causing Northern lots of problems, the Gosforth-based side were finding it difficult to win any worthwhile ball and Morpeth continued to spend most of the first half attacking.
A break by Ben Hornby almost brought a try then Michael Mullins, playing his first game in Morpeth colours following his move from Ponteland, was stopped a yard from the Northern line and Andy Shippen was on hand to pick up the ball and crash over beside the posts.
The Jinks conversion made it 10-0 after 15 minutes.
Unfortunately, Morpeth could not increase their lead. The rest of the first half was spoilt by several handling errors, too much kicking and too many penalties, which stopped them adding to their score.
However, just before half-time, Northern missed both a drop-goal and an easy penalty, which meant the score remained 10-0 at half-time.
The second half began with the home side, now with the wind advantage, once again missing what looked a straightforward penalty, but they almost immediately kicked a drop-goal to reduce the gap to seven points.
The Morpeth forwards once again took control of the game and the Northern forwards lost their momentum.
The away side won the ball from a scrum awarded to the opposition and from a penetrating drive, prop Scott Ramsay burrowed over to score.
The ever-reliable Jinks converted to make it 17-3.
With the wind still behind them, Northern were able to spend time in the Morpeth half, but the visiting defence was excellent.
Backs and forwards were tackling well and Northern were unable to get back into the game.
Joe Forsythe was a constant threat and the pick of the forwards, the returning David Dickinson and Armstrong have both brought a great deal of experience and know-how to the side and newcomer Mullins can be pleased with his debut.
Morpeth now have two consecutive home games – this Saturday against Sheffield and the following week against Middlesbrough – which give them an opportunity to consolidate their position in this very competitive league.