Morley got their season back on track with an 18 – 12 victory over local rivals West Leeds.
The first half was played in constant rain and the conditions made for more errors than should be acceptable at this level. The sides were evenly matched over the opening 40 minutes. Although Morley had the edge in the forwards and rather more possession, their old failing of being unable to convert pressure into points pointed to a stalemate.
Early pressure from Morley brought a kickable penalty which was declined for a kick to touch. However the conditions made the early throw ins a bit of a lottery for both sides and the chance was lost.
With injuries to Knowles and Kenneally from last week, Morley brought in two youngsters to make their debuts. Thomas Isherwood started at fullback and Connor Jordan at right wing. Both made impressive debuts with Isherwood having more opportunity to show his skills.
Although Morley started better, West Leeds had the first opportunity with a penalty near halfway on 19 minutes when a Dale Breakwell penalty was just wide. Morley suffered a setback after 24 minutes when hooker Steve Graham who was also making his debut had to go off to add to Morley’s growing injury list. Jacob Percival came on to replace him.
The game, as might be expected, was keenly fought and the passion from both sides was evident although it never boiled over. However, following a brief flare up, Morley’s prop, Dan Percival was given a yellow card on 29 minutes. West Leeds sensed their chance and took the game to Morley. Following a penalty catch and drive on the stroke of half time their forwards overcame the depleted Morley pack to score with Dale Breakwell doing well from the touch line to send the home side into half time leading 7 – 0.
The game ebbed and flowed with neither side making their mark. Eventually, good runs from Andy Ellis and Jacob Percival punched holes in the West Leeds defence and Chester and Isherwood set Jordan free on the right. However, good cover from centre Tom Jackson forced Jordan into touch. From the lineout, Morley stole the ball and Hannam’s charge was stopped just short of the line. The ball was recycled and Richmond and Flegg had attempts to breach the defence without success. However when the ball was sent into the centre, West Leeds were found lacking as Greg Jones finished of a devastating 1 meter burst by Nick Green by the posts. Chester’s conversion equalised the scores.
Morley now had the edge with powerful runs from the forwards and more penetration from the backs causing problems for West Leeds. Following a turnover ball at a West Leeds scrum, Nick Green picked up and ran powerfully into the centre. Quick recycling from Sewell and Chester gave Isherwood some space on the right. Once again Isherwood found Jordan on the right wing about 15 meters out. With the try line in sight Jordan brushed off the attempted tackle and raced over to score in the corner. Chester was unable to convert but Morley had a 12-7 lead after 63 minutes.
Morley continued to press. Chester missed with a long range penalty attempt but was successful on 70 minutes to open up the score to 15 – 7. A cheeky drop goal on 73 minutes made West Leeds task even harder.
However, West Leeds did not give in and were pressing for most of the final 10 minutes. The pressure eventually told when Jacob Percival received a yellow card for an infringement and the West Leeds forwards finally claimed their second try on 84 minutes. The conversion was missed and Morley were left as worthy victors with a score of 18-12.
Morley face another tough task next week when York are the visitors to Scatcherd Lane.
York were promoted from Yorkshire 1 and had a formidable reputation as the “Juggernauts”. They have started this season well with two victories over Driffield and Consett.
Updated 23:30 - 9 Sep 2018 by Dennis Elam