Match slips from Morpeth’s grasp

Michie and Carmichael in defence for Morpeth (playing in green). Photo by Keith Robertson.
Michie and Carmichael in defence for Morpeth (playing in green). Photo by Keith Robertson.

Morpeth 19 Cleckheaton 20 North One East

WHAT a pulsating finish to a match that could have gone either way.

Jinks’s long-range effort at the very end of the game hit the post, thereby giving a well-organised Cleckheaton team the winning points which overall they thoroughly deserved.

Morpeth suffered a setback when number eight and vice-captain Morrison pulled out through injury, nevertheless they welcomed back Matty Jinks after a prolonged absence.

It was good to see Jinks, one of the most consistent and prolific kickers in the league, back in the team.

Despite his return, for the first 25 minutes Morpeth were outplayed by the visitors who won the ball at will and retained possession.

The home side were unable to get out of their half with a crumbling line-out that was proving their nemesis all afternoon presenting significant problems.

An early 10-point lead for the visitors was no more than they deserved, with a penalty and converted try.

Morpeth clawed their way back in the last 15 minutes of the first half when Phillips crashed over under the posts after a worked move in the centre and then Craigs wide-out scored an excellent and well-worked try.

Jinks returned to the scoresheet with a conversion.

Morpeth rather surprisingly went into the second half on a high with a 12-10 lead.

The second half saw the home side get among Cleckheaton, causing some problems as the Yorkshire outfit were unable to capitalise on their domination of the line-out, albeit Morpeth were undoubtedly on top in the scrum.

A rolling maul from an attacking line-out for the away side saw the referee turn down a score.

Then Morpeth capitalised when Hornby intercepted and ran in under the posts from 40 metres to make it 19-10 as Jinks slotted over the conversion.

It looked as though the home side might sneak it. However, Cleckheaton fought back with two tries from their impressive line-out to give them a one-point lead going into the final play when Morpeth won a penalty fully 40 metres out.

The drama unfolded as the returning Jinks lined up to strike a cracking attempt that came back down from the upright as the referee blew for full-time.

On reflection, Cleckheaton, with two kicks at goal rebounding off the posts and a disallowed try, deserved their victory. However, Morpeth never gave up and came close to pulling the match out of the fire.