Morpeth Colts 19 Billingham Colts 14
A bright and cold Saturday, saw a first-verses-second league match at Morpeth, with the visitors Billingham sitting at the top of the league playing Morpeth Colts who are sitting in second place.
From the visitors’ kick-off Morpeth’s young guns took the game to Billingham, with forwards looking after the ball for it to be spun out to the backs.
On three minutes, Billingham were rocked. The ball was spun out from a ruck and, with Nellis coming off his wing to make an incisive run on halfway, he offloaded to Jonas, hitting a line from full-back to outpace the defence and score under the posts, with Walker adding the extras (7-0).
Billingham are not the sort of team to lie down and started to show why they were unbeaten and top of the league.
Both sides were now producing some quality rugby.
On 14 minutes and after a period of sustained pressure, they got the try their hard work deserved, with a short pick-and-drive. The two points were added, making it 7-7.
The Mitford Road youngsters found another gear and started to really turn the screw.
Captain Henry Rank picked up from the base of a Morpeth five-metre scrum, but was judged to have run into one of his own players, giving the visitors the scrum, which the home pack managed to take against the head.
Rank picked up again and took the ball on a few yards before being tackled from the ensuing ruck. Second-row Jonas collected and burrowed over the line to score. Walker added the conversion to make it 14-7 after 31 minutes.
From the kick-off, Morpeth got possession and again found themselves in the Billingham 22, looking for another score. At a ruck about 15 metres out right in front of the posts, Billingham were penalised for offside.
Morpeth could have kicked the penalty but elected to take the scrum. Rank picked up from the base, passing to Ball, who gave it to Thompson. He floated a delightful pass to full-back Jonas to score in the corner. With the conversion missed, it was 19-7 to the hosts at half-time.
Morpeth got the second half under way and much of the early second-half exchanges were in the midfield with both sides working hard to find a way through.
The home side came close to crossing the Billingham line on a number of occasions but were met by a resolute defence and so it was Billingham who crossed the line for the only try of the half after good work down their left flank. The extras were added, making it 19-14 and a nail-biting final eight minutes for the hosts.
This was a hard-fought victory for the home team against a very good Billingham outfit and is probably the finest game of Colts rugby we will see at Mitford Road this season.