Morpeth edged out by Alnwick in County Final

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Alnwick RFC 11-7 Morpeth RFC

Northumberland Senior Cup Final

The first aspect that needs to be covered is that this Cup final , was a credit to both sides and match officials providing such an exciting match, intensely competitive,yet played in such a good spirit.

The sides,having already met on two previous occasions this season with Alnwick being victors,albeit by the narrowest of margins. Often when you look forward to the Cup final and another match between the close rivals the match itself fails to live up to the promise, however, this game gave the spectator everything and if not a little more.

The match hosted by Novos was played on a bright spring afternoon with a strong wind blowing directly downfield.The conditions played a significant part in the match itself.

Alnwick took advantage of the elements in the first half and took the lead when full back Bird taking full advantage of the wind converted a long range penalty .

At this time Morpeth’s set piece was particularly sound. The lineout work of Hill, Campbell, Craigs and Dawson, coupled with set scrum power of Moody and Carmichael kept Alnwick at bay.

In a match where the wind was so strong it could well be argued that neither side made full use of the elements,a fact that materialised as the match developed.

Nevertheless Bird again was successful from distance to make the score 6-0 after 20 minutes.

Shortly before half time Morpeth patiently worked their way upfield and created a scoring overlap which was spoilt by the indecision and an infringement,which made the half time score 6-0 Alnwick who hadn’t really created a try scoring opportunity.

A 6-0 scoreline at halftime represented a really good Morpeth performance, particularly by the pack who really did play outstandingly well.

The second half almost mirrored the first,with this time Alnwick showing patience,organisation and resilience , with Morpeth unable to secure enough good possession to enable them to dictate territory. That said when those opportunities arose they were not taken.

Then Alnwick’s patience ran out when a cross field run and then attempting to force the play,Ward, intercepted, ran 40 yards, to touch down for yet another try by the outstanding wingman.Ball converted well,not the easiest kick considering the conditions.

Morpeth were leading 7-6 with some 28 minutes still to play, this was a tall order now for this Alnwick side, now minus the fulcrum of their defence,given injuries to both full back and wing.

Apart from a sporadic passage of play when Morpeth applied pressure inside the Alnwick 22m area, Alnwick dug deep, with a marauding back row, patience and tenacity in keeping possession, starving Morpeth of any continuity, although Ball was just short with a long distance effort.

The game changed after 72 minutes. Alnwick had taken play on or around the Morpeth 22, when they conceded a scrum, which was safely won. From that possession Morpeth moved the ball wider to give an easier clearing kick, when this was not completed Alnwick’s excellent defence disrupted, turned the ball over into their possession before sprinting away to score in the corner.

Given the factors of wind the exact accuracy of the clearing kick was not as important as getting it down there and asking Alnwick the question-score from here ? Nevertheless credit to Alnwick for their spirit and ability to win the game, yet Morpeth would undoubtedly feel they had in fact lost the game.