Morpeth beat the conditions but lose to Cleckheaton
Morpeth RFC 17Cleckheaton 31Morpeth welcomed league rugby into 2022 with a home fixture against old foes in West Yorkshire outfit Cleckheaton, writes Colin Green.
The very fact that the game was played is testament to the fantastic work of John Dungait. The 'No 2 pitch,' was outstanding considering the recent heavy frosts and rain. Come kick off, the weather had relented and the game was played out in near-perfect conditions.
The match went deservedly the way of Cleckheaton who were both physically and more experienced than a Morpeth side who played with heart and determination. The visitors also had the game's outstanding performer in standout Dom Brambani, who probed and managed his resources, always putting his side on the front foot.
Morpeth began with a sparkling start when a Ward-initiated counter attack got the home side going, before a quickly recycled ball saw Ben Hornby provide an excellent long pass for Smith to go over in the corner. 5-0.
The lead lasted only minutes before a Cleckheaton attack from a lineout exposed Morpeth's midfield for a try by the posts, converted for 5-7.
Defence was a continual problem for the home side who failed to match the physicality shown by the visitors, who deservedly increased their lead before half time when some good inter passing saw the home defence exposed again for another touch down which was again converted. Half time score 5-14.
The first 15 minutes of the second half proved crucial. Initially Morpeth threw everything at the home side. Then one poor scrum and a missed tackle saw Cleckheaton break away to score an impressive try followed up with an equally impressive conversion. 5-21.
Morpeth's never-say-die attitude then saw winger Ward break away for a solo effort from 60 yards, to go over for a converted score. 12-21.
Then almost immediately second-half sub Williams intercepted and broke clear, only for Cleckheaton to somehow get back to thwart the attack. Excellent defending by the visitors who then didn't look back and stretched the game beyond the home side with a further converted try and penalty. 12-31.
The game ended as it begun with a super home try when the industrious Telford went over in the corner after a flowing Morpeth move.