For a side fielding six or seven changes of personnel from the previous week against unbeaten Morley in the North 1 East League, this could have been a match with disastrous consequences for Durham City. It was however a highly competitive affair throughout and, but for a golden seven minute period midway through the first-half when defensive concentration lapsed and Morley struck to score 3 fine converted tries, the outcome may well have been very different.
City began brightly, dominating the opening quarter in terms of territory but unable to breach a solid home defence. Their only reward was a penalty by scrum-half Paul Armstrong for a 3 – 0 lead after 15 minutes, but suddenly Morley got some front-foot possession and broke free to score from their first real attack when winger Noah Hawkins made ground on the right and the ball came inside for flanker Callum Rogers to score after 20 minutes.
Four minutes later, Connor Wilson came off his wing to blast through the middle for their second try and they quickly followed it up when stand-occ Mark Chester broke from a ruck after a good run by Hawkins to score under the posts. Chester converted all 3 tries and in what seemed the blink of an eye, City suddenly trailed 21 – 3 and things looked ominous.
To their credit however, they quickly re-grouped with the lineouts and scrums working well and only good home defence keeping them at bay as they pressed going into the interval.
The second half, punctuated by penalties the majority of which going against Morley, proved to be a pretty even contest. Both defences held sway, and whilst City had the satisfaction of producing the only further score of the game when full-back Josh White broke up the left and winger Nathan Bushnell went over from the resultant ruck after 63 minutes to reduce the deficit, it never looked as if they could fully make it up.
On Saturday, City entertain Pocklington at Hollow Drift (KO. 3.00pm)
CITY: Josh White; Tom Elliott, David Elliott, James Coxon, Nathan Bushnell; Charlie Scott, Paul Armstrong: Benny Parkinson, Ritchy Thirkell, Tim Mackay, Dominic Warby, Jonathon Deighton, Howard Johnson, Simon Ord, Peter Dent.
Replacements: Max Bailey, Andy Kirkup, Kenny Reader.