Morpeth 23-6 Northumbria University
Before providing this match report it is important to recognise and report the sad week for members and supporters of Morpeth Rugby Club,in the passing of two club stalwarts in Paul Aynsley and Bill Carlton, writes Colin Green.
There are many closer and more knowledgeable members who can give far better and informed testimonies than myself ,however,I was both extremely fortunate and deeply grateful to have played with Paul, who was the epitome of a genuine and honest team player on which the club is based.
I was equally fortunate,as a fledgling first team member,in having the guidance and wisdom of Bill,for which I will always be deeply indebted and will never forget.
The appropriate one minute silence preempted this Northumberland Senior Cup quarter final.
This was an attempt at a fast flowing game producing the classic match of a senior pack (Morpeth) against the students backline wishing to play a fast flowing attractive brand of rugby.
Unfortunately, the match was spoilt by errors on both sides with the students making many handling errors spoiling their ambitions and Morpeth trying to force the game at crucial stages.Nevertheless there was enough open play to keep the large crowd entertained in a close encounter, which Morpeth finally clinched victory with two good tries in the last 10 minutes.
Morpeth, on top in the set scrum had the first real scoring opportunity which Ben Hornby put wide the resulting penalty.
In fact albeit Morpeth were on top in the early passages of play but were met with good defence,not helped by some labored handling and a tendency to run sideways,so any Ward incursion from full back proved fruitless.
In contrast Northumbria with their speed of hands looked threatening, albeit good home defence and the final pass or handling going astray kept the score line at 0-0.
Before halftime a successful break out led to a Northumbria penalty which was almost immediately equalised when Ben Hornby slotted three points to make the score 3-3 at halftime.
Another Hornby penalty ,gave Morpeth an early second half lead which was again cancelled out as the students hit back with a penalty of their own ,whilst skipper Hill was faced with,a not so quiet time in the sinbin ! 6-6 .
Hill’s return ,and possibly as the students defence began to stretch Morpeth sealed the game going into the final quarter.
Hornby converted his third penalty and Morpeth sealed victory with two good tries,firstly a good attacking line out with Craigs controlling at the back saw good quick hands before Tait, running straight and seeing the half gap, linked with Ward before sending Sam Hornby over for his brother to convert.
Then more good forward driving ,releasing at the right time, saw another Tait break, linking with Allen ,and Ward again benefiting from straight running and good hands saw him dive over with Hornby again successful.
Morpeth have been fortunate to secure the services of three forwards, all of whom provided both promise and experience in different measures in Ben Sandall a prop who has returned to the area and initially hails from New Zealand ,Steven Long, second row from Blyth and Ian Burnham an experienced back row formerly of High Wycombe
This all augurs well for the first league game at Alnwick on September 2.