Encouraging display by Morpeth despite defeat to league leaders Percy Park

Morpeth put in an encouraging display with a team including 13 players who have come through the ranks. Picture: Morpeth RFCMorpeth put in an encouraging display with a team including 13 players who have come through the ranks. Picture: Morpeth RFC
Morpeth put in an encouraging display with a team including 13 players who have come through the ranks. Picture: Morpeth RFC
League leaders Percy Park were the visitors to Mitford Road on a bright, sunny winter’s day.

The game proved to be entertaining and competitive, with both sides giving their all.

There was no doubt Park deserved the spoils, winning 32-12, but this was a committed performance from Morpeth who now need to carry this through for remainder of the campaign.

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Park made a solid start. It was an aspect throughout the 80 minutes that when they were able to put pace and width in their play, Morpeth struggled.

Yet it was the home side who made the first score, after eight minutes, when fly half Jake McKay knocked over a penalty that actually originated from a crunching tackle by the same player.

That score seemed to galvanise Park, who dominated the next 15 minutes in terms of both territory and possession.

On 22 minutes, Park got the score they finally deserved from an attacking lineout, and then with the hint of a forward pass, excellent interplay saw a really good try by the posts.

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No sooner had the home side restarted than Park made another super score. It came when talented full back Ash Smith beat a couple of players, grubber kicked through and had the skill to control the ball before crashing over for another converted try.

It was a struggle for the home side, who had defended manfully but were struggling to get possession and a foothold in the match.

Sheer willpower got the home side back into the game. The lineout, something of a problem a week earlier, was working effectively, and following an excellent drill, Park were forced onto the back foot, conceding a penalty for a deliberate knock on.

A penalty and sinbinning resulted, enabling McKay to kick another penalty on 27 minutes.

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Better was to come for the home side. The returning Alex Thompson, together with Josh Williams and the hard working Elliott Clark were prominent.

Another good lineout, with hooker Ian Grieve co-ordinating affairs, gave McKay another difficult penalty chance. The fly half knocked over a super kick on 33 minutes to make it 9-14.

This was the closest Morpeth got in terms of the scoreline and Park confirmed an eight-point lead with a penalty of their own on 35 minutes.

Back came the home side. Skipper Jack Elliot, who was a threat to Park throughout, made an excellent break on 35 minutes but lacked support as he entered the Park 22. Nevertheless, a penalty ensued for McKay to knock over.

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The home side would have been satisfied had the score remained that way as the game approached half time. Crucially, it was not to be the case. Back chat to the referee proved costly for Morpeth. Another 10 metres, and now a penalty chance was gratefully seized upon by Park, who increased their lead.

The second half was a mirror of the first, with Park looking dangerous when the game opened up.

Morpeth defended well and looked to their strong running back five to make an impact, assisted by Elliott’s sniping runs.

Park increased their lead with tries in the 48th and 70th minutes.

This was a much better home performance and notable for the fact that the side contained 13 players who had come through the ever productive age grade system.

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