West Hartlepool 23-13 Morpeth
Morpeth travelled down to Teeside in buoyant mood as current league leaders ,but were comprehensively outplayed by West who thoroughly deserved their victory.
This was only Morpeth’s second league defeat and it almost exactly mirrored their first, againstnext week’s opponents Huddersfield YMCA.
Morpeth were unable to take advantage of early dominance, and they fell foul of a number of refereeing decisions. Ill discipline, with skipper Hill being sinbinned also led to their downfall against a side who defended well.
On an excellent playing surface, Morpeth played against quite a strong wind in the first half with full back Ward, who was a constant threat throughout, prominent. They caused panic in the home ranks but were unable to take advantage of numerous chances, mostly due to poor decision making.
After 23 minutes a single Hornby penalty was scant reward for the pressure, giving Morpeth a slender 3-0 lead.
But it was West who turned round at halftime with a 10 point lead. Firstly an attacking line out led to a try which was expertly converted. Then two further well struck penalties gave West the lead at 13-3.
It was classic example of taking their chances despite Morpeth dominating territory.
Immediately after half time Ben Hornby was again on the mark with another penalty to reduce the arrears to 13-6.
Then there came the Hill sinbinning, during which Morpeth conceded two excellent West tries , both from a long way out, which ultimately won the game.
Hard as Morpeth tried they became predictable in attack and it was no surprise that Ward, from a quickly taken penalty, ran through to score.
Disappointing for Morpeth, losing top spot, but every defeat provides learning opportunity.