Morpeth RFC 17-23 Alnwick RFC
Both sides and referee should be congratulated for producing an enthralling local derby played out in front of a large crowd in an almost spring afternoon. The game just about had everything including a finish which will be hard to describe.
Overall Alnwick deserved the victory,playing with greater continuity and always able to pose a threat with ball in hand.Yet credit should also go to a Morpeth side who contested throughout and contributed fully to the encounter,in a match they could have won at the very death.
Morpeth dominated the early exchanges with a great deal of forward pressure amd after 10 minutes play they deservedly took the lead when from an attacking lineout skipper Hill burrowed over from close range and Hornby adding the extras.
It could be said that the home side did not make full use of the elements, Hornby missing a penalty on 23 minutes, before Alnwick coming increasingly into the game piled on the pressure with a series of attacking phases close to the Morpeth line before their centre crashed over at the posts to make the scores level.
Then as halftime approached a Hornby break saw Alnwick infringe allowing the fly half to convert a penalty giving Morpeth a slender 3 point halftime lead.-10-3.
The second half saw Alnwick with the wind in their favour take control of the game,both half backs continually managed the game playing in the right areas.This was supplemented by full back Bird who was without doubt the outstanding player on view.
In the first skirmish of the half he converted a long range penalty,then 15 minutes later he repeated the act making the score 13-10 in Alnwick’s favour.
Then an Alnwick try when Ward failed to deal with a difficult chip the corner Alnwick scored wide out,the conversion followed 20-10.
No way back for Morpeth -absolutely not ,going into the last quarter they engineered Tait wide out on more than one occasion but the centre was unable to break the last tackle or set the winger away.Elliott and particularly Hornby started prompting and probing finding behind their opponents.
Another Hornby break,led to a series of phases led by Hill and Moody battering away at Alnwick’s line before it came back to Elliott ,still with a lot to do ,who sniped,ducked and forced his way to the line for Hornby to convert.20-17 after 75 minutes.
Alnwick again from the restart, caused the home side to concede another penalty which Bird again converted on 78 minutes.
Yet again game over, absolutely not. From almost the last play of the game,Alnwick gained possession,but for the first time in the half they made wrong decision running it in their own half, Hornby intercepted going head long for the corner he was tackled in the act of scoring,did he ground the ball ? Was it a high tackle ?
The closeness of these decisions and the game itself sums up the competitive nature of this league.
We can all have a view, however, the referee gave the home side advantage of an attacking scrum and although they came mightily close running close range penalties Morpeth could not score and Alnwick deservedly took the spoils,the Brett Horse.Bird secured the man of the match Dave Routledge trophy .