Battling Colts leave comback too late

Action from Morpeth RFC Colts against Percy Park RFC Colts.
Action from Morpeth RFC Colts against Percy Park RFC Colts.

Morpeth RFC Colts 28 Percy Park Colts 32

SATURDAY saw Morpeth Colts back in league action at home against Percy Park.

The conditions were near-perfect when fly-half Ollie Tapscott got the game under way.

Morpeth’s young guns came flying out of the blocks, forcing an early infringement to give Tapscott the opportunity to take three points which he gratefully accepted, giving Morpeth the lead within the first minute.

Percy Park took the restart in determined fashion winning the ball back and piling on the pressure. With the home team caught offside at a ruck, the visiting 10 took the three points, levelling the scores.

The teams were locked in a fierce contest, making for an enthralling game to watch. Morpeth were next to get on the scoresheet with a visitor’s hand in the ruck, Tapscott slotting the kick to make it 6-3 to Morpeth.

Percy Park weren’t lying down and came back at Morpeth with renewed vigour. On 21 minutes, their centre crossed the line, with the fly-half adding the extras for 6-10 to Park.

Morpeth seemed to be on the back foot after that score and allowed Percy Park to get their heads up, letting them in to score again four minutes later, adding the extras (6-17).

For the remaining 10 minutes of the half, Morpeth bravely kept Park at bay and created a couple of chances of their own but, because of poor handling, they came to nothing. The biggest loss of the half was Craig Donnelly who had to go to hospital with a broken collar bone.

Percy Park got the second half under way and again won the ball back, but Morpeth seemed a little more determined and weren’t about to let Park have it all their own way. They battled away to get some possession.

On 44 minutes, from his own half, centre Scott put a speculative kick into space. The Park winger was out of position and allowed the ball to bounce. He jumped to collect it but had it snatched off his fingertips by the chasing Evans who ran in to score. Telford, who had replaced Tapscott, missed the kick, making the score 11-17 with 40 minutes gone.

There followed a moment of deep controversy. Percy Park were soon back in possession of the ball and put together a couple of phases before releasing their left-winger, who managed to evade a couple of tackles and got into Morpeth’s 22 before offloading to the big second row. The second row got within an arm’s length of the try-line, where he was tackled and dropped the ball over the try-line from waist height where it actually bounced. Inexplicably and much to the dismay of the young Mitford Road team and their supporters, the referee gave the try, making it 11-22.

Morpeth’s heads seemed to go down and they allowed Percy Park to score another two unconverted tries within the next seven minutes, making the score 11-32. Things were looking dark for the home team.

Some tactical changes were made, with Scott moving into the back-row for Lyall. Tait moved in one to inside-centre and Manley came back on at outside-centre. Tapscott, the first-half number 10, came back on in the second row for Parkin.

This seemed to galvanise the home team, with Scott in particular making an immediate difference in the forwards. On 59 minutes, after some impressive phases, he crashed over in the corner to bring make it 16-32.

Morpeth were now in the ascendency and clearly weren’t going to lie down. They started to move the ball and up the pace of the game, creating gaps, one of which Manley accelerated through to run from just inside the visitor’s half to score (21-32).

The Mitford Road outfit hadn’t finished there. Three minutes later, Bradley crashed over and this time with the two points added it was 28-32, with three minutes to go. Park were getting nervous.

Morpeth managed to collect the restart and set up the ball. Tapscott was excelling in his new role at lock and made an impressive break, but due to a lack of support the ball was turned over. Park looked to run the clock down by kicking for touch, but Morpeth won the ball back and were back on the offensive. Frustratingly, just as they were looking dangerous, the ball was knocked on, giving the visitors the scrum from which they kicked for touch, ending the game.

This was a game Morpeth could and should have won, but for a lacklustre middle third and a controversial try. But this team can take a lot of heart from their fightback in the final 15 minutes and from that performance need fear no one.

Man-of-the-match: Ollie Tapscott. Newcastle University sponsor the Colts.