North One East
Morley RFC 52 v Percy Park RFC 29
A point gained….yet many are ‘lost for words’!
Following our empathetic victory over Consett, Percy Park departed Preston Avenue with real intent and expectation of delivering a good performance. A mood that left all contemplating the warm autumn words of a William Wordsworth or Yeats. Words that wrapped you up and left you feeling that all will be well in your world, despite the imminent chilly winter months. And as we all looked out of the bus window and contemplated the days wane, the thought of nights closing in and viewing nature’s vibrant hues none of us perceived the bite of a wintry bluster. Yet by the end of this game we all had experienced a gruesome icy blast and the only descriptive words being uttered were of a rough cathartic nature and decidedly winter blue in nature! At half time it was so different; we were in control, we were the better side and importantly 24-12 to the good. As coach Patton contemplated post-match “ we showed our class and game in patches but not enough responsibility to keep working hard for the full 80”…which was a very nice way of describing a second half submission that allowed Morley to outscore Park by 40 points to 5 !! So what went wrong?
Percy Park made a good start to this game. Astute kicking from fly half Ash Smith and Olly Gilmour at scrum half boxed Morley deep in their half. Park’s defensive game was exemplary with tackles well in front of the gain line that had Morley pedalling backwards. Although Morley had the heavier pack Park showed they could cope and with ball in hand were dangerous.
An unfortunate crossing call gave possession to the home side and as they progressed up the pitch a long pass scraped off the fingertips of a rushing Michael Grove allowing the Morley winger space to go over for the first score of the game. If Grove had got that ball he would have been away fortunately Morley didn’t learn that lesson. However more of that later. With the conversion missed 5-0 to the team in maroon.
As the clock ticked on, the Morley 8 was starting to show with some strong runs. He really needed to be closed down a bit quicker. However the Park defence stayed resolute and the Morley second and third phase had to go deep to avoid the advancing Park backs. A little extra was needed to breakdown that black and white wall. Recognising that space was going to be hard won, the Morley 11 came inside off his wing allowing his centre colleague a little bit of room to avoid the tackle. With a deft side step he left Michael Grove flat footed to score. With the conversion taken 12-0. Despite the score line there was no panic in the stands or on the pitch. At this point we were more than a match for the Yorkshire side.
Park were dangerous and it was a fantastic play that was all about movement and support that brought Park onto the score sheet. A kick over the on rushing Morley defence saw wing Jimmy Baldwin advancing onto the ball and Morley turned and chasing back. An off load to the fleet footed Michael Grove had the full back screaming up the left wing supported by Seb Reece. With Reece caught by a covering tackle a great offload put Leo Caulfield in the clear. Morley were struggling to meet the pace of the attack. With Ash Smith in possession he released Captain Jonny Dubois who put his head down to barrel over the line. Great stuff to watch. Conversion taken. 12-7
A few silly penalties gave possession away but Morley loved that long pass. As I said they were slow learners. Again Grove saw the pass and on this occasion intercepted the ball. With the Morley full back in the line there was no catching him. Conversion taken. 12-14.
Clever kicking to the corners kept Morley pegged and one ‘over and chase’ was brilliantly taken by Jimmy Baldwin. The only way Morley could defend was to infringe. Penalty Park. Dispatched by Smith. 12-17.
Park’s tactics of turning Morley were reaping dividends. One such kick just rolled over the line for a 22 drop out. With the ‘drop’ taken Park gathered and worked the ball to the left leaving Morley no other choice but to give away a professional foul blocking the line taken by Phil Morse, who if allowed to run, would have taken the ball and gone over to score. Penalty Park. The Morley crowd were baying for blood and their players were rattled. One injured player in the stands was having a psychological meltdown. Penalty Park to the left of the posts. With Smith electing to go for the line the opportunity to advance the score was lost, as the resulting throw was intercepted and Morley able to clear their lines.
A great tackle from Ross Young saw Morley go over straight over in the ruck and onto the floor. Penalty Park. With the wind blowing across the pitch the kick would have been into the gust. Smith went to the corner. Somehow we lost the line out but Ethan Wilson got the ball back to set up the ruck. With Josh Hedley coming round, his gigantic reach saw the ball dotted over the line for the score. With the conversion taken, 12-24. The Morley crowd were seething and their commentator, thinking that silence was the better option, didn’t acknowledge the score.
And the exasperation and indignation was further ramped up when Phil Morse kicked ahead. The ball rolling toward the Morley try line. A chase won by the Morley full back who in picking the ball up took it over the try line, before placing the same on the floor. When the referee awarded the scrum to Park, the roof came off the Scatcherd Lane stand with many off their seats heading to the touchline to vent. With the scrum ball won Park were at the line and adjudged (harshly) to be off their feet. Never mind. 12-24 at the half. Three tries scored. One to go for a minimum return of a bonus point
The only downside to a great first half was that Ash Smith was off with what looked to be a hamstring problem, as he collected a loose ball off the floor.
As the teams gathered in their huddles a rather unattractive incident saw the referee being admonished by the injured Morley player. An incident that was calmed by the referee’s assessor. It was not a happy ground and Percy Park really should have kicked on from here and why we didn’t is inexplicable, leaving the author and the travelling support lost for words!
From the kick off we were second best in every department. Defensively we seemed to change tactics allowing Morley to run onto us rather than taking the space away from them. And in doing so their forwards ran riot. With time given, they stepped up the gears and as the half progressed Park forgot how to tackle. The submission really was that bad. And the referee, who was the first half villain, became the Morley champion as he gave a yellow card to Ethan Wilson for failing to roll away, further accelerating the Percy Park collapse. By this time the match tannoy announcer was in full voice as the evident relief in the match turn around could be felt amongst the Morely support.
As the game came to its close and dark clouds rolled over the Percy Park team, the vocal encouragement from the travelling support to get that extra point was pronounced. With the Morley support attempting a vocal ‘drown out’ of their own, Percy Park sparked into action. From (another) kick off, Park collected the ball. The emerging Andrew Walker twisted out of an attempted tackle to place a great pass into the eager hands of Ethan Wilson. The player flew into the Morley defence and for the first time in the second half we were at their try line. Steady forward play saw the team move the ball inside for Michael Birkett to show grit to get the ball over the line. The bonus point earned. The conversion attempt being the last kick off the game. Well we missed….. and that just about summed the half up.
The game lost 52-29.
In the first half we were motoring and in the second….well the engine simply misfired…so it’s back to the drawing board with the honest hope that this really was the lowest playing point in our season. Knowing our players it will be. Putting this behind us…. its home on Saturday with the visit of Bridlington. With the clocks going back it’s a 2:15 kick off and with that kick hope abounds with fresh belief. Come on Park!!