Cleckheaton 18-24 Morpth RFC
Morpeth’s excellent season continued with yet another solid but hard fought victory against Cleckheaton, a feat they had never previously achieved in all the previous encounters against the strong West Yorkshire outfit.
Perhaps Morpeth’s performance didn’t match the dizzy heights of their impressive display last week against league leaders Scarborough, but any win on the road is more than a worthy victory and in terms of real value it can only be measured in a couple of months from now.
Whilst a bonus point would have been the icing on the cake that should not detract from the points obtained.
Morpeth suffered a blow before a whistle was blown when flanker Craigs, one of the side’s most consistent performers, had to withdraw through illness when warming up.Burnham replacing him in the starting line up.
Further blows were to follow when Morpeth struggled to come terms with the game which resulted in conceding two early scores.
On 13 minutes, Cleckheaton attacking, were awarded a penalty some 5m out from the Morpeth line. Worse was to come, with Morpeth not retreating in accordance with the referee’s instructions a penalty try was awarded - 7-0 to Cleck.
Then on 22 minutes the home side increased their lead with an unconverted try making the score 12-0.
It wasn’t until the half hour mark that Morpeth gained a foothold in the match and it came from route one rugby with scrum-half Irving touching down. This followed intense pressure from a Morpeth pack and the fourth scrum in a row - all 5m out which resulted in a home side sin binning after the first scrum. Ben Hornby added the extras for 10-7.
Immediately after Cleck restarted Morpeth took the lead. The restart was taken by Moody, but the dynamic Dynan then made a scintillating break from within his 22, Then with some great interplay with Boldy, sent Ward on his way and over the whitewash to touch down for an excellent score, with fly half Hornby again adding the conversion points, 14-12 to Morpeth.
The half ended in frenetic fashion as both sides, sent the ball wide with Cleck again applying most of the pressure.
Half time score remained Cleckheaton 12-14 Morpeth - anyone’s game.
The second started with the home side turning the screw in terms of pressure and possession but held out by some stout Morpeth defence. It was against the run of play that Hornby converted a penalty on 56 minutes taking the score to 17-10. It was a vital strike in keeping the scoreboard ticking along in Morpeth’s favour.
Shortly afterwards they increased their lead on 59 minutes when right wing Ward kicked through; Cleck struggled to deal with the situation allowing Phillips to ground the ball after it entered the dead ball area.Hornby again was on the mark with the conversion.
The home side were not to be outdone, and penalties in the 65th and 68th minutes brought the score back to 18-24 to Morpeth.
The final 10 minutes were dramatic,Morpeth prop Moody was sin binned but the side held out and indeed nearly got a bonus point when on 78 minutes full back Telford, outstanding throughout, was stopped from scoring with a tremendous covering tackle by Cleck’s centre.
Final score: Cleckheaton 18-24 Morpeth
Man of the match: Andrew Telford.