Alnwick RFC 15-10 Morpeth RFC
Over the past two seasons, these closest of rivals have met repeatedly, with Alnwick continuing to have the edge,albeit usually by the closest of margins, writes Colin Green.
The first league encounter last month saw the spoils being shared but Saturday’s County Cup semi-final was deservedly won by the home side.
Apart from last month’s draw, Alnwick have won this series of games because quite simply they have been the better side on the day,h aving enough possession to make use of their expansive game and being a constant threat from all areas.
In addition, they have a well-organised defence.
Morpeth, in contrast, would readily admit to not being at their best, unable to look after the ball when in possession and playing in the right areas when they have it, appear to be the key issues if this current trend is to be reversed.
Having said that, the fact that over the past two years there is usually only a score between these two sides, it is the narrowest of margins that Morpeth have to address.
Alnwick started the game brightly when they attacked away from the clubhouse, with Stephenson in particular making some good hits as the Morpeth midfield stood firm.
Then, with scrum-half Elliott starting to influence the game with the help of a marauding pack, Morpeth pressurised the home side from an attacking line-out and Ben Hornby finished really well, weaving his way over for a score which he converted to make it 7-0 after 20 minutes.
Alnwick again pressed well into the Morpeth 22 and had number 8 Dawson to thank as he stole possession under extreme pressure, allowing Hornby to clear the lines.
Back came Morpeth to increase their lead just before the interval, when Elliott, again threatening, caused Alnwick to infringe for Hornby to make the score 10-0 to Morpeth at the break.
The second half saw Alnwick dominate in the early stages, as a Morpeth line-out failed to operate followed by a midfield break and a marauding run by the Alnwick prop saw a score by the posts for a converted try making the score 10-7.
Another break in midfield saw a try wide out and Alnwick took the lead with an unconverted try, making it 12-10 to the home side. This lead was increased in the 65th minute with a penalty as Alnwick deservedly drew away.
Then in the last 10 minutes, Morpeth gained a foothold in the opposition’s half. Spurning kicking opportunities, the misfiring line-out was unable to pierce the exceptionally well organised home defence, which stood firm.
Morpeth’s man-of-the-match was Jack Elliott.