Morpeth Colts 33 Alnwick Colts 10
County Cup final
An excellent team performance earned Morpeth the silverware against their near neighbours.
A damp and cloudy Sunday afternoon saw the Colts line up against their Alnwick counterparts in a repeat of last season’s final. This year’s showpiece was hosted by Percy Park.
Morpeth won the toss with Captain Conor Davison electing to kick. The pack immediately put Alnwick under pressure and managed to win the ball back. Morpeth went through a few phases and after three minutes were awarded a penalty on the ten metre line for an Alnwick player being offside at a ruck.
With the kick being in line with the posts, scrum half Cameron Walker went for the three points and he converted the penalty to give Morpeth an early lead.
From the kick off, Morpeth retained the ball but a knock on gave possession back to Alnwick. They managed to go through a few phases, working their way up to just outside the Morpeth 22 where they got a penalty of their own for an infringement at a ruck.
The Alnwick kicker made no mistake, bringing the score to 3-3 after five minutes.
Morpeth almost won the ball straight back but unfortunately it was knocked on giving Alnwick the scrum, from which they tried to make some inroads into the Morpeth half but they were met by a resolute defence and were penalised for holding on.
This gave Walker the opportunity to kick for goal and he was successful, making the score 6-3 to the Mitford Road youngsters after nine minutes.
Morpeth started to settle into the game, they seemed to have an answer for everything Alnwick threw at them.
Fly half Kieran Brown was reading the game well and gaining territory with his probing kicks and with second row Caleb Ward jumping well, Morpeth were turning over Alnwick line-outs at will, starving them of possession.
On 18 minutes, an offside at a ruck again afforded Walker the chance to go for goal and he made it 9-3 to Morpeth.
Morpeth were now settling into their stride and had Alnwick pinned in their own half, Walker was unlucky not to score with a clever dart around the fringe of a ruck five metres out, but he was just held up over the line.
From the ensuing scrum, the Morpeth pack put the squeeze on and took the ball against the head. The ball went out to the backs and after a couple of phases it reached Jake Mckay on the left wing, who managed to dive in and score in the corner – with the conversion missed it was now 14-3 to Morpeth.
The Morpeth forwards were completely dominating the set piece, giving the backs a solid platform from which to attack.
Brown made some penetrating runs, finding gaps where none seemed to exist. Andy Bradley was in complete control in the centres, with his cultured hands and vision dove-tailing perfectly with the bullocking directness of his centre partner Shaun Stephenson, who was causing the Alnwick defence all sorts of problems.
On 28 minutes, Walker got his try following some quick phases. He took the ball, dummied and darted through to score just to the left of the posts and he then converted his own try to make the score 21-3 to Morpeth at half time.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Alnwick had a period of possession and pressed for a score.
They spent a period of time in the Morpeth 22, with Morpeth being penalised a couple of times for being offside, but the defence was up to the task and managed to repel them, clearing the lines with a kick for touch.
From the Alnwick line-out, Morpeth won back possession and again pressed for a score but lost the ball in contact. Alnwick were now on the attack through their impressive full back Burn who made a run down the right wing, but he was put into touch with an excellent try saving cover tackle from full back Adrian Jonas.
From the line-out, Morpeth played what can only be described as champagne rugby, with the ball going through almost every pair of hands on the pitch as backs and forwards supported each other.
The ball eventually came to Rees on the right wing who ran in to score in the corner, making the score 26-3 after 53 minutes.
Alnwick now had probably their best period of the game. Testing Morpeth fully, they managed to again get into the Morpeth 22 and following a period of pressure, their centre ran a good line to score under the posts. The try was converted to make the score 26-10 on 61 minutes.
The remainder of the game mostly saw Morpeth in possession of the ball. Scrum half Walker had gone off for Alex Ball, who continued almost seamlessly to boss the game with his half back partner Brown.
Jonny Lishman had also come on for Stephenson and Greg Henderson came into the back row for Jack Bullock, Harry Thompson was on for Deven Rees on the wing.
Changes were also made in the front row, with Jacob Venters-Wood replacing Ben Wales and Callum Metcalfe coming on for Husseyin Yilmaz.
Alnwick did threaten to score again, this time down their left wing, but Jonas was there again to snuff it out, taking the winger into touch.
Perhaps fittingly, Morpeth had the final say following some mesmerising interplay between backs and forwards.
Jonas took a lovely line from full back and ran in to score under the posts two minutes from time. Brown converted to make it 33-10 and it was a jubilant Morpeth that greeted the full time whistle.
This was a well deserved win, with some excellent rugby played making for a very entertaining game for the many spectators, all the better for the fact that two thirds of the Morpeth starting XV were Junior Colts, which bodes well for the future.
Thanks must go to Percy Park and in particular Chris Wrigley for doing an excellent job in hosting these finals.
Walton Marquees of Brunswick are the proud sponsors of Morpeth Colts.
Morpeth squad: Adrian Jonas, Deven Rees, Harry Thompson Andy Bradley, Shaun Stephenson, Jonny Lishman, Jake Mckay, John Bell, Kieran Brown, Cameron Walker, Sam House, Alex Ball.
Jacob Venters Wood, Ben Wales, Henry Rank, Husseyin Yilmaz, Callum Metcalfe, Caleb Ward, Conor Davison (c), Liam Scott, Matty Denton, Matty Connell, Will Aynsley, Jack Bullock, Greg Henderson.