Ladies edge closer to the top of the league

Morpeth Ladies 17 Darlington Ladies 12 National League Two North

MORPETH are now just two points from the top of the league after a hard-fought home victory.

From the kick-off, Morpeth were the first to attack but they found it difficult to make ground against a strong-tackling Darlington back-row and a war of attrition ensued as neither side gave an inch.

The hosts had chances, including when captain Kate Hall found some space and made a fantastic break from the Morpeth 22 to the five metre line, but they could not find the breakthrough.

However, with the first half drawing to a close, some good approach work by the Morpeth forwards was rewarded when the ball was worked along the three-quarter line to winger Diane Purvis.

She found the space to beat the defender and open the scoring with a deserved try to give the home side a 5-0 half-time lead.

With the forwards picking up where they left off in the second half, coupled with some direct running from the three-quarters, it was no surprise when Morpeth increased their lead through a well-taken try by full-back Ebony Gray, following a break and offload by Rachel Best, whose conversion made it 12-0.

But this had the effect of stirring Darlington into action and within minutes a counter-attack from their fly-half Jo Mann resulted in a try.

Morpeth’s next score followed a sweeping run around Darlington’s back line by prop-forward Helen Osborne, who inexplicably offloaded to scrum-half Nadia McPherson when over the try-line herself.

The visitors came back again and after a spell of possession, substitute Tracey Kelly scored a try in the 69th minute. This was converted to bring the score to 17-12.

The final 10 minutes saw Darlington repeatedly attack the Morpeth line, which was met with determined defence.

A break from a five-metre scrum was held up over the try line by Jade Tipping and Cheryl McAlpine and the hosts were relieved to hear the final whistle. Forward-of-the-match went to Hannah Lines and back-of-the-match to Phillipa Shell.

Morpeth’s next match is at Mitford Road on Sunday when Sheffield Ladies will make the trip north. Kick-off is 2pm.