Cliffhangers and thrillers
MORPETH 30 pts MALTON & NORTON 30 pts
If it’s excitement you are looking for then look no further than Malton & Norton. Cliffhangers and thrillers seem to be a habit these days and this was certainly a cliffhanger, although in reality Malton should have had the game sewn up and the five points in the bag long before the final frantic few minutes.
Morpeth began the scoring in the fourth minute when Malton were penalised for holding onto the ball after a tackle and home fly half Mathew Jinks struck the first of his six penalties in the game. That score was quickly equalled with a similar effort from Ali Heard in Maltons favour. Neither side could gain an advantage and the game swung from end to end in the bright sunshine but when a Malton clearance was charged down and then knocked on by a Malton player Morpeth got the first try of the game. From the scrum they broke to the blind side and, having created an overlap, sent left wing Ben Hornby over in the corner. For once Jinks radar was slightly off line and the conversion failed. Malton were showing some good touches and a willingness to run the ball and got their reward in the seventeenth minute. After securing good line out ball they quickly got the threequarters into action and when Heard set up a maul in centre field hooker Alex Whitaker was on hand to carry on the move before handing to left wing Tom NEWITT who sped over to score close to the posts. Heard added the extras for Malton to lead. Yet again Malton conceded a needless penalty almost straight away, suicidal with a kicker of Jinx ability in the opposition ranks, and he made no mistake for the lead to change hands again. However, the home side were also giving away penalties and when they were caught offside at a ruck Heard again put Malton into the lead. With half time approaching Malton moved up a gear and a good break from No.8 John Dobson took him deep into home territory before handing on to fly half Chris Creber who was brought down just short of the line. The support was just too far away and Morpeth were able to clear to end the half with Malton leading 11 – 13.
The second half began after some delay for a substitute referee to be summoned from a neighbouring pitch, the match referee having pulled a hamstring during the first half. The break appeared to have benefitted Malton as they scored from the kick off. Playing advantage for a Morpeth knock on Creber fed full back Ian COOKE who carried on the break before handing over to right wing Josh Saunders who raced over between the posts for Heard to convert. That should have been the nail in the Morpeth coffin but indiscipline at breakdown situations cost Malton dearly as they were penalised three times in quick succession and Jinx took advantage each time to level the scores at 20 points all.
With ten minutes remaining Malton again kicked into life. Quick ball from a scrum on halfway gave Creber the opportunity to make a half break before letting centre Ryan LONSDALE free to open the hole for flanker Sam Triffitt to cross for Malt to regain the initiative. From the restart they again struck. A hopeful kick upfield by Heard was allowed to bounce by the home defence and quicksilver Saunders, as always, had followed up well to seize the ball and gallop over from 40 metres out to bring the score to 30 – 20 in Maltons favour. With five minutes remaining that should have been the end, but there was more to come and not from Malton. The home side were never going to give up and when they moved the ball wide some poor tackling by Malton allowed them to drive forward. Malton seemed to have the attack in hand but instead of tackling low and bringing the ball carrier down they went high to steal the ball and failed allowing full back Joe Simms to cross in the corner for Jinx to convert and bring the scores to 27 – 30 to Malton. From the restart Morpeth made ground to the half way line near touch where Malton were penalised yet again at the breakdown. The mark was just out of Jinxs range but stupidly a Malton player made an unnecessary comment to the referee who moved the penalty on ten metres. This time it was in range and this time he made no mistake to level the scores. Malton had one last ditch attempt to snatch the win with a long range attempt from Heard but the ball fell short and the final whistle sounded to end the game in stalemate.
Maltons discipline at the breakdown and ball retention were poor but on the other hand they did produce some good rugby to score four tries and take three points from the game and move up one place to fifth in the league. Next week Malton travel to bottom placed Team Northumbria.
Malton: I.Cooke, J.Saunders, A.Heard, R.Lonsdale, T.Newitt, C.Creber, T.Collard(D.Cattle 40mins), N.Salisbury(W.Wainwright 55mins), A.Whittaker, A.Turnbull, D.Foster, R.Webster, G.Ramsay(T.Casey 75mins), S.Triffitt, J.Dobson.