Lots of effort without reward for Morpeth

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Wheatley Hills 22 Morpeth 12 North One East

THE conditions were near perfect for rugby and both teams played their part in a good competitive game.

Morpeth played into the sun for the first half and weathered an early onslaught by Wheatley and then when they entered the opposition half they had a spell of pressure and won a penalty that Phillips missed with a kick at goal.

After a couple of plays the home side had a scrum in their own 22 which they heeled but then scrum half Ben Hornby, who was outstanding all afternoon, pounced on the loose ball which came out of the scrum and somehow he wriggled through the defence to touch down. Phillips then converted with a much harder kick than before to give the visitors a 7-0 lead.

Wheatley Hills then dominated play which resulted in Morpeth skipper Morrison being lost to the bin after a few team offences and eventually they got their just reward with a converted try. Right on the stroke of half-time, the hosts kicked over a penalty to take the lead (10-7).

The away side turned around at half-time playing down towards the club house and were hopeful of causing Wheatley problems, however the home side then had more sustained pressure which resulted in another converted try to extend their lead to 17-7.

Morpeth then showed a lot of grit and were determined to get back into the game. Phillips had a long range penalty kick that was just wide but they continued to cause the opposition problems.

All the players of this mainly young team stepped up at this point in the second half, notably 18-year-old openside Craig Donnelly, who improved as the game went on, as did right winger Richie Stephenson. Paul Wonders, who was playing at fly-half for the first time for the first XV, gave it his all as did play-anywhere Mickey Craigs, who did nothing wrong at 12.

Morpeth continued their attacking momentum, with Wheatley conceding a number of penalties. Hooker Hill then ran a penalty and blindside flanker Duggan was driven over by his fellow forwards, as the conversion was missed it was 17-12 to Wheatley with approximately four minutes left.

The hosts were aided when Morpeth gave a penalty away around their own 10-yard line after Duggan had picked up the opposing number nine and not knowing quite what to do, as the player would not let go of the ball, let go of the player.

Wheatley kicked to the corner and mauled over from the line-out to take the final score to 22-12, thus taking the game beyond Morpeth’s reach and also there was no losing bonus point to be gained.