Morpeth Rugby Club start league campaign with win against a determined Stockton side

Morpeth's Elliott Clark in action in the game against Stockton. Picture: John StaffordMorpeth's Elliott Clark in action in the game against Stockton. Picture: John Stafford
Morpeth's Elliott Clark in action in the game against Stockton. Picture: John Stafford
Morpeth began their league campaign with a hard fought victory against a stubborn Stockton team, who provided a threat throughout.

Morpeth fielded a side with both youth and experience. The experience in particular was shown by veteran forward James ‘Beefy’ Armstrong, who came on as an early replacement and performed admirably.Morpeth got the scoreboard moving with a first minute penalty from centre Jake McKay. It was an excellent effort from a player whose kicking was a feature throughout. There then followed a period of ‘kick tennis’, with both sides trying to settle into a pattern. On eight minutes Stockton attacked, good handling creating an overlap from which a try seemed a certainty, however the final pass went astray. Unfortunately during the first 20 minutes Morpeth lost both centre Sam Hornby and second row Ben Jackson.McKay was then wide with two further penalty attempts before Morpeth finally put some pace in the game. It came with a quickly taken penalty, after an exceptional break from full-back Kieran Smith on 25 minutes that put pressure on the home side. A storming run by second row Alex Thompson followed, which saw fly-half Ben Hornby faced with slow ball 10 metres out. With the defence covering, Hornby dummied and then crashed over by the posts making the McKay conversion a formality. 10-0.The Morpeth scrum was definitely having the upper hand with both props, league debutant Chris Johnstone, Miles Gavaghan and also hooker Ian Grieve to the fore.It was this dominant set play that was responsible for the home side increasing their lead, when on 30 minutes scrum-half Ben Gascoigne dotted down after an attacking scrum and McKay converted. 17-0.The first half ended when McKay kicked another penalty but not before the visitors had scored a well-deserved try when they camped on the Morpeth line. Half-time score 20-5.Stockton dominated the first period of the second half and were rewarded with a converted try. 20-12.Despite another McKay penalty and a great deal of endeavour from both sides, the game then disappointed. Tired legs in the heat, together with numerous penalties, saw the match ending with a final home score by Grieve after an attacking line-out. Final score 28-12.Scoop’s man of the match, prop Chris Johnstone, who had an excellent league debut.

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