Morley 22 - 35 Morpeth
Morpeth come back from the dead to stun the Maroons.
Leading 22-6 and with the morale boosting benefit of a try on half time and another just five minutes into the second half, Morley looked set fair to get their fourth try and build up a healthy points difference. That’s what nearly everyone at Scatcherd Lane believed after 50 minutes play on Saturday. However, Morpeth had other plans and scored 29 unanswered points, scoring 4 tries to finish deserved victors on 35 – 22.
The final try was unlucky for the Maroons as Ben Hornby intercepted a loose pass on 77 minutes when Morley were trying hard to get a bonus point try in the dying minutes. He raced 50 metres to score under the posts and converted his own try to bring his personal tally to 20 points. However, the game was already won by then and Morley were left to ponder what went wrong.
Morley had the best of the first half and dominated possession and territory in an entertaining show of attacking rugby. Unfortunately the old problem of scoring points was apparent and it was not until the 14th minute that Chester opened up the scoring with a penalty for dangerous play. The Morpeth No.3 was given a yellow card for his part in the action. Could Morley use the extra man to add more points? No it was Morpeth who scored next on their first venture into the Morley 22 when Morley were penalised for hanging onto the ball. Ben Hornby equalised with the first of his three penalties to bring the scores level.
It was immediately back to business as usual with the game being played in the Morpeth 22 and following powerful bursts from Andy Ellis and Ollie Flegg, Nick Green thought he had scored, but the referee decided he had been held up over the line. A try was soon forth coming as from the scrum, the Morley pack pushed their opponents back over the line and Brandan Hannam dropped on the ball to score. Chester made no mistake with the conversion and Morley moved into a 10 – 3 lead.
Once again Morley were unable to consolidate their lead and aggressive counter- rucking by Morpeth won them the ball and Morley were penalised in their attempts to get it back. Hornby slotted over the 3 points and Morpeth were hanging in there despite having very little ball.
The Percival brothers combined well to break out but the attack came to nought due to lack of support. Still Morley swung the ball about using both wings to try to break the Morpeth defence. Morpeth held out until the stroke of halftime when Greg Jones forced his way over from a penalty catch and drive. Chester added a good conversion to see the half time score at 22-6.
Morpeth started the second half well, but Kenneally and Stevenson combined to attack down the right wing. The attack was illegally halted by wing Sam Hornby who was yellow carded for his efforts. Morpeth were quickly penalised again when Sewell was prevented from passing and Dom Walsh’s quick penalty tap opened up the Morpeth defence. Kenneally was there to carry on the move and Stevenson on hand to score his first try for the club on 45 minutes. Chester missed the conversion but Morley had a healthy 22 – 6 lead and looked set to add more points.
Once again Morley offended as Morpeth came into their 22 and Hornby picked up another easy 3 points to ratchet the score to 22 – 9.
The turning point of the game possibly came on 58 minutes when Morley turned down a comparatively easy 3 points and went for a catch and drive. Morley lost the ball in the ensuing ruck and Morpeth escaped up to the half way line. A penalty took them to the Morley 22. Kenny Sewell did well to break up the attack with an interception and race down the touchline, but when he was tackled there was no one to stop fullback Andrew Telford from racing back up the touchline to go behind the post for an improbable try on 60 minutes. Hornby’s conversion making the score 22 – 16.
The seemed to lift Morpeth and depress Morley as Morpeth began to dominate the game that had once belonged to Morley.
A break by centre Phillips nearly brought a second try but Baylis and Kenneally managed to snuff out the threat. However the second try was not long in coming. Morley were pushed back from a ruck on the Morpeth 22. Quick hands opened up the Morley defence and a strong diagonal sprint led to substitute Jake Jardine crashing over by the posts.
A minute later and two missed tackles from a shell shocked Morley saw a similar move ending with No.8 Ollie Dyan claiming the try on 77 minutes.
Morley did not give in, but did not look likely to score and Hornby’s 77th minute interception was the final nail in coffin.
For most of the game Morley were in command and looking good. They will need to learn how to convert pressure into points, cut down on the penalties and tighten up the tackling.
Their next match is away to West Leeds who had a good start to the season winning 36 – 34 away to Consett.
Updated 20:21 - 2 Sep 2018 by Dennis Elam