Morley were the better side at Morpeth but managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when Morpeth scored their fourth try in injury time to pip Morley 32 - 27.
Morley were on top in the scrum, produced more line breaks and defended well for the most time. What they could not come to terms with was the referee’s interpretation of the laws. Some poor handling in the first half when knock on’s were prevalent and some poor decision making in the second half handed hard won possession over to the speedy Morpeth backs did not help their cause.
Morley started well with both wingers being brought into the game within the first minute, but Morpeth weathered the early pressure, and good work from wing Ward in the centre allowed fullback Telford space to race in by the posts for the first score. Stand-off Ben Hornby, with 246 points in the bag this season added the two extra points after 15 minutes.
Morley came straight back and pushed Morpeth off their own ball as they gradually exerted their dominance in the scrum. A promising move looked on, but broke down with a knock on.
Morley continued to exert pressure in the scrum but Morpeth did well to cope with difficult ball and exited well after Morley had a period of possession in their 5m zone.
Morley were gradually getting their ball carriers going with Ellis, Shannon, Ridgway and Graham prominent. The initial break through occurred when Chester made a break in midfield beating two defenders. He looked relieved to find hooker Ridgway in support and his pass gave the young hooker a path through the defence to score by the posts. Chester’s conversion levelling the score at 7 all on 26 minutes.
Morley were giving away far too many penalties at this stage and it was no surprise when Morpeth edged into the lead on 32 minutes with a well taken Hornby penalty.
Morley continued to take the game to Morpeth and fine runs from Turner, Jacob Percival and Chester kept on the pressure.
The value of perseverance was shown when Bradshaw harried the Morpeth backs in a seemingly lost cause but managed to regain the ball. Morley swung the ball left and right to stretch the defence before Hannam, Freeman and Shannon tried to batter their way though. However, when the ball was swung to the left once more, Scott Turner managed to run, crawl and dive over the line to score Morley’s second try on 35 minutes.
Morley were unable to build on this as Morpeth were awarded another penalty in front of the posts to sneak into the lead 13-12 in injury time at the ned of the first half.
This late reverse did not appear to upset Morley who started the second half in whirlwind fashion with Baylis and Kelly moving the ball at pace. A break by Kelly up the centre took the ball into the Morpeth half. Baylis was involved as he moved the ball to Jacob Percival on the right. Jacob committed two defenders before releasing Bradshaw on the right touchline with a skilful one handed reverse pass. Bradshaw raced in from the Morpeth 22 with the Morpeth wing chasing and the fullback to beat. A clever step inside and dive for the line saw Bradshaw over the line. Chester was unable to add the conversion from the touch line but Morley were ahead 17 – 13 on 41 minutes.
Morley extended their lead to 20 – 13 after a Chester penalty but were caught napping when Ward took a quick penalty to go over. Hornby’s conversion drawing the scores level at 20 – 20 on 52 minutes.
Morley took the lead in the 57th minute in a text book training move from captain Andy Ellis. He aimed a grubber kicked to hit a defender’s leg and then followed up the ricochet to pick up the ball and dive over the line. The conversion brought the score to 27 – 20.
Morley looked like they would continue to boss the game and be the first to lower Morpeth’s colours at home. However, some poor decision making allowed Morpeth to control possession for the final 15 minutes and the exceptional finishing skills of wing Jonny Ward saw him score two tries in the 67th and 81st minute to snatch victory.
Updated 15:30 - 14 Apr 2019 by Dennis Elam