Rusty start after lay-off

West Hartlepool 15 Morpeth 8

North One East

AFTER six weeks of inactivity due to the atrocious weather conditions, Morpeth finally got their league programme back on track with a visit to leaders West Hartlepool, writes Tom Green.

The hosts had the advantage of playing last week against their local rivals Rovers.

Despite the mild January air there was a cool wind blowing end to end at the Brierton Lane ground, where the visitors played the first half with the elements in their favour.

It was obvious there would be some rustiness about and this proved to be the case as Morpeth struggled to get into the game with the home side piling on the pressure – not helped by inconsistency in refereeing.

It was certainly against the run of play when an excellent line-out take from Bell led to the first incursion into the West 22 metre area, which allowed Jinks to slot over a comfortable penalty.

The home side came straight back and a created overlap allowed their right wing to race over unopposed for a try.

The game changed dramatically in the run up to half time. Firstly, Morpeth lost scrum-half Slater who was making his first start in two years in the number nine jersey.

This incident occurred as the visitors put together a good run of phases that culminated in Slater being stopped yards short of the line – unfortunately he was left with a lacerated ear requiring hospital treatment. The ever reliable Jackson replaced him.

Then from the resulting penalty, Morpeth pressed again with prop Ramsey burrowing over.

But the scoring for the first 40 minutes wasn’t over and West secured a 10-8 lead with a deserved try right on the whistle.

The second half saw a gritty Morpeth side fight against the elements to secure a bonus point as West increased their lead with a further try.

The defence was really spirited as both backs and forwards gave their all for the cause against the league leaders who were deserved winners on the day.