Morpeth Colts 33 Percy Park 17
SATURDAY saw Morpeth Colts at home to Percy Park in their first league match of the new season.
In near-perfect conditions, this was set up to be a fast-paced match.
The visitors got the game underway and, from the off, Mitford Road’s young guns set out their stall, competing ferociously at the breakdown and looking to move the ball wide. The early exchanges saw Morpeth with the lion’s share of possession, which, after eight minutes, they turned into points.
Some patient build-up work, with forwards working hard at the breakdown and building the phases, saw the ball go wide, and full-back Jonas coming into the line to take a neat pass from Rees on the wing to score, with fly-half Brown adding the extras to make it 7-0 to the hosts.
Park got the game under way again and straight from the restart the Mitford Road outfit strung together some quick phases down the right, releasing Rees on the wing to run in a try of his own, Brown stepped to add the conversion, 14-0 to Morpeth.
Percy Park now started to play and put Morpeth under some pressure, working their way into the home 22 through a series of short drives from their pack, Morpeth managed to keep them out and with Park knocking on, got a scrum five metres out from their own try-line. The visitors were then penalised for offside at the scrum, which led to a piece of individual genius from fly-half Brown.
Getting his hands on the ball, he took a quick tap-penalty and set off on a run.
He reached the halfway line before a Park player got a hand on him. With two support players outside him he could have passed, but he had the strength to break the tackle and just kept running until he touched down under the posts, converting his own try, it was now 21-0 after 17 minutes of play.
The visitors continued to press for a score of their own and the home side had to be at their best to keep them out.
However, on 29 minutes, they got the try they deserved through some impressive phase build-up play. With the conversion missed it was 21-5.
Morpeth now started to press again. Aynsley managed to put enough pressure on at the restart for Morpeth to come up with the ball.
They managed to look after it, but were penalised for offside at a ruck, giving the visitors the opportunity to kick for touch deep into Morpeth territory.
Unfortunately for the visitors, at the ensuing line-out, second-row Ward got just enough of the ball to tap it back to scrum-half House, enabling the home side to go on the attack again.
A series of quick ruck balls and Morpeth were right back in the visitors’ 22, where they were awarded a penalty for offside. A quick tap-ball, two passes and centre Smith, who was proving to be a thorn in the park side, crashed over. The metronome stepped up to add the two points, ending the half 28-5 to Morpeth.
Changes were made at half-time with Yilmaz on for Venters-Wood at loose-head, Metcalfe replacing Rank (who moved to flanker) at hooker, Bradley coming on for the ever-dependable Lishman at centre and Nellis coming on for McKay on the wing.
Morpeth got the second half underway and the visitors found some new resolve.
In this half, they probably played some of their best rugby, testing the home defence with some battering runs from their big forwards. Eight minutes into the half, they crossed the line to score, narrowing the gap to 28-10.
The home side came back at them, pressing for a score, but couldn’t quite convert pressure into points.
Park were now starting to turn ball over at the breakdown at an alarming rate, frustrating the Morpeth attack. However, the Mitford Road Colts kept their nerve and in the 57th minute, managed to create a clear scoring opportunity with Thompson, who had come on for Jonas, running a good line from full-back to score. With the conversion missed, it was now 33-10 to Morpeth.
The remainder of the match was played at a frantic rate, with the work rate from both sides something to behold. The home pack was everywhere, in particular Aynsley and Rank who popped up all over in the loose. Park were the last to score with three minutes left to make the final score 33-17.
Walton Marquees sponsor Morpeth Colts.