Percy Park 17-12 Morpeth RFC
Morpeth made their shortest away trip of the season on Saturday to take on a Park side for what always was going to be a close encounter – and so it proved, writes Colin Green.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, a strong gusting wind and, in the second half, icy sleet and rain made playing and watching conditions extremely difficult.
Yet the match, played under excellent floodlights, was an entertaining affair played in good spirit. Given the conditions, the players should take great credit.
After their excellent mid-week County Cup semi-final victory, Morpeth began confidently with early possession but were rocked when Park took the lead on six minutes after camping in the opposition 22. They patiently recycled possession to go over by the posts for a seven-point lead.
The strong gusting cross wind was proving difficult for both sides but on the whole Park had the edge in the first half, looking sharper, particularly in attack, where their midfield made consistent inroads.
On 25 minutes, Park scrum half Haskins scored an excellent individual try, from a good attacking line out then ruck. He followed his own pass, coupled with a run around, kept possession and showed good pace to make the try line for an unconverted score to extend Park’s lead to 12-0.
Morpeth then played their best rugby of the half and with backs and forwards linking, right wing Sam Hornby got on the end of a move and beat a couple of players, only to be brought down inches short.
Then on 40 minutes, a quickly taken Dynan penalty saw Ben Hornby make an excellent cross kick, despite the conditions, for his brother to take and then produce an excellent inside pass for Tait to go over, making the half-time score 12-5.
Such were the conditions, both sides returned to the changing rooms at half-time.
It was Morpeth who dominated for long periods in the second half, starting with an Elliott try after 45 minutes, gathering from a series of rucks to bury over from close range. With Ben Hornby making a really good conversion, the scores were levelled up at 12-all.
Morpeth then had the chance to take the lead but Hornby was wide with the penalty. Conditions deteriorated as the driving rain and sleet increased.
This led to the turning point in the game when a clearance kick, a difficult option given the conditions, was caught up in the wind and swirled away to an eager Park attack where a one-on-one tackle was missed, allowing Park a crucial score for 17-12.
Morpeth were denied almost at the death when it looked as though they went over the line but Park held out.
There were some solid performances, particularly from the back row unit of Dawson,Craigs and Dynan, with Sam Hornby showing a couple of excellent touches.
Men-of-the-match Michael Dungait and Mark Watson – the coaching team, for their hard work and dedication.