1st XV - Report
Morprth 13 - 29 Sheffield
Sheffield travelling troop come up trumps on our longest trip to the North East with a well earned win at in form Morpeth.
Team Selection - 8th October 2011
15. Ewan Reed
14. James Montgomery
13. Joe Cribley
12. Dave McCabe
11. Alex Hill
10. Donal Collins
9. Matt Poste
1. Tommy Marples
2. Carl Mortimer
3. Chris Machen
4. John Dudley
5. Tom White
6. Dave Ellis
7. Laurence Thomas
8. Andy Kelly ……..… (Capt)
16. Will Bennett
17. Mark Walker
18. Tom King
The long trip to an inform Morpeth looked to be a monumental task, particularly on the back of consecutive defeats to Durham City and Billingham. Second row, Kyle Howard, was unavailable and open-side flanker; Martin Balshaw was a late drop out, with Tom White and Laurence Thomas taking their respective places. Liam Wallace dropped from the bench to play in the 2nd XV and he was replaced by the returning Tom King, back with us in Sheffield after a spell in Manchester. Otherwise we were unchanged for the trip.
The disappointments of the previous two weeks were quickly dispelled as left wing Alex Hill touched down wide out on the left after just 4 minutes when, from a scrum following the loss of the ball by the Morpeth pack, captain Andrew Kelly picked up at the rear to feed Poste and on to Collins, who kicked over the Morpeth defence for Hill to catch and score. Donal Collins added the conversion from the touch line and Sheffield had an early nil to 7 lead.
Although the weather was reasonably dry, the pitch was quite wet and both sides conceded a number of turnovers with the greasy ball. However, Sheffield were awarded a very kickable penalty after 8 minutes, but chose to kick to the corner, whereupon they managed to loose the lineout and the chance went begging. Sheffield were then awarded a further penalty just 2 minutes later, but Collins effort sailed harmlessly wide. There followed a short period of kicking ping pong before full back Ewan Reed tried to run out of defence, he was caught, the defence was not quick enough to assist and Morpeth had a penalty some 25 metres out, which their number 9, Matty Jinks despatched with ease, and so with just 13 minutes gone the score was Morpeth 3, Sheffield 7.
Morpeth found themselves with a further penalty, just 3 minutes later, but on this occasion, Jinks failed to convert the opportunity and the score remained unchanged. With 20 minutes gone, Sheffield were deemed to have erred again, this time for off their feet at the breakdown, and again, Jinks could not make the visitors pay for the indiscretion. There followed another period of kicking ping pong before the Morpeth full back managed to kick the ball straight out after it had been carried back into the 22, and Sheffield had a lineout on the right in a very good position. Sheffield were awarded a penalty almost immediately, but again Collins normally unerring boot was not on target. From the drop out centre Joe Cribley produced one of his snaking searing runs from deep before trying to kick through just outside the Morpeth 22. The rebound found its way to second row Tom White who barged on magnificently before passing on for a quick interchange between the Sheffield backs for Alex Hill to cross the try line once more. Donal Collins attempted conversion was off target, but Sheffield had secured a 3 point to 12 lead after 28 minutes.
The next score came on 34 minutes when Carl Mortimer was deemed by referee Tony Parlett to be playing the ball off his feet and on this occasion Matty Jinks did reduce the arrears for the half end at Morpeth 6, Sheffield 12 and with 2 tries.
The second half saw Morpeth coming much more into the game and dominating both possession and territory, but again it was Sheffield who would strike the first blow. With just 6 minutes of the half gone, Sheffield had battled their way up field through a mixture of forward drives and some very canny kicking from Donal Collins. Sheffield had a line out just inside the Morpeth 22 and following a number of forward drives the ball was spun to the right, the move broke down, but a quick thinking Dave McCabe took control and knocked over a drop goal from 20 metres to extend the lead out to 6 points to 15 in favour of Sheffield.
However, Morpeth were definitely up for the fight and the pressure on the Sheffield line became intense, but Sheffield’s defence remained resolute, until that is we had played 23 minutes of the half and the Morpeth scrum half jinks saw the opening. He moved smartly to his right leaving much of the Sheffield defence in his wake, but also attracting too much attention from the remainder, allowing a clever overhead pass to find the open-side flanker, James Defty who was easily able to dive over in the corner. The kick from Jinks was on target and the lead for Sheffield was slender 2 points at 13 to 15.
Sheffield regrouped and again it was the kicking of Donal Collins that gave Sheffield good field position with a line out on the right. Morpeth cleared their lines well; with Sheffield full back Ewan Reed collecting in his own half. He attacked down the left before kicking to touch himself, but the resulting lineout was less than 10 metres from the Morpeth line. Morpeth managed to spill the ball to Sheffield and after moving it rapidly to the right, Joe Cribley again cut the opposition defence to pieces before handing on to left wing Alex Hill, who had gone hunting for the ball on the right, resulting in Alex’s hat-trick try after 39 minutes of the half. Donal Collins added the conversion and Sheffield were able to feel just a very little more relaxed with a 13 points to 22 lead, but still with plenty of time to play. Sheffield decided at this point in time to ring the changes with Tom King replacing James Montgomery on the wing, and young Will Bennett coming on for Chris Machen in the front row.
Morpeth seemed to viably wilt at this point and Sheffield should have almost immediately scored the bonus point try when with a break down the left, Alex Hill should have had his fourth of the afternoon, but the final pass went agonisingly forward with the line only feet away, and with referee Parlett very much up with play, there was no mistake and Hill was denied. Sheffield had now upped their game and were pressurising every aspect of Morpeth’s game. The ball was turned over at a 5 metre scum and Sheffield battered at the Morpeth try line, which eventually resulted in second row Tom White crashing over for that vital bonus point try with 37 minutes of the half gone. Collins again added the conversion and the few travelling Sheffield supporters rejoiced in a 13 point to 29 lead.
In the remaining period, including 7 minutes of stoppage time, Morpeth put in a monumental effort and again attacked hard at the Sheffield defence, but again it held firm and eventually we were able to enjoy a fine win, and a bonus point away from home, against a very good side in Morpeth.