Morpeth 18-8 Penrith
Morpeth welcomed top of the table Penrith to Mitford Road, well aware that they needed to put a run of wins together soon.
A dominant early scrum and a string of penalties allowed the home team to work their way up the right touchline until they were in the Penrith red zone. They then got a further penalty head on to the posts which Hornby had no problem with and they took a three point lead.
Morpeth were dominating possession but in a rare attack Penrith kicked a penalty to touch in the Morpeth half, they won the lineout and after a forward drive, drove into midfield only for Morpeth to offend to give Penrith a penalty shot which they kicked - 3-3.
Penrith knocked on at the restart and from the resulting scrum, which the home side won with ease, the ball came to the Morpeth backs and a kick was put high and wide for Ward, the bounce was kind and he took it in his stride, the Penrith cover did get to him and half tackled him but could not hang on and he scored wide out - conversion missed.
Morpeth continued to have the lion’s share of the play and it was no surprise when they extended their lead just before the break with a very good Hornby drop goal which signified a good all round display from the Morpeth fly half.
Half time 11-3 to Morpeth.
Morpeth started the second half strongly and this intent resulted in right winger Gavaghan heading for the try line but he was high tackled just short by a Penrith defender and the referee awarded a penalty try - everyone is still trying to adapt to this new directive with any contact near the head area - Hornby converted 18-3.
The pattern of the game did not change with Morpeth having most of the game and Penrith living on scraps. Morpeth were certainly playing in the right areas of the field and a Hornby penalty kick wasn’t far away as they were looking to take the game away from the travelling Cumbrians.
Penrith did finally work their way out of their own half and started to keep possession for the first time in the game.
Morpeth were pleased to welcome James Phillips back in the centre, after he picked up an injury in the first league game of the season, and the “fitness freak” put in an all action display, although he couldn’t complete 80 minutes as he was rightly sinbinned after a high tackle - the Penrith player actually stumbled before contact but again this new directive continues to have an impact on the game.
This Penrith pressure did lead to an unconverted try with 10 minutes to go - 18-8 to Morpeth. Morpeth continued to work hard and saw the game out to record a very good win over the top of league - a most welcome win but very necessary with the league as tight as ever with seven teams all within six points of each other - Morpeth are now currently sixth on 44 points and Dinnington are 12th on 38 points.
The main plus for Morpeth in this game has to be that they conceded single figure penalties which is hugely important in this very tight and competitive league.