North One East
Morpeth RFC 15 v Percy Park RFC 7
Park fail to take advantage of Morpeth indiscipline
When the opposition spend 40 minutes , or to put it another way, half a game playing with a ‘man down’ you would expect Park to come away from Morpeth’s Mitford Road ground with some reward. How that failed to materialise came down to some well organised Morpeth defence and a Percy Park team playing 'into' that defence. To make matters worse when Park went down to 14 combatants Morpeth scored! ....... I have always reported that watching Percy Park is never dull and so it proved once again as the emotions went through the mincer with frustration ruling the day for both player and supporter.
As the game kicked off in struggling sunshine it was apparent ‘from the off’ that both sides were evenly matched. As the sides clattered into each other it was difficult for the connoisseur to see where advantage could be taken. As the game settled, the first indications began to manifest themselves. At the ‘scrum’ Morpeth pushed Park back. The combination of Moody, Hill and Sandell had the Park front row unsettled. For the supporter who remembered our last foray to Mitford Road concern was prevalent. Yet with ball in hand Park looked far more dangerous with Seb Rees making some superb ‘in roads’ into the Morpeth ‘three quarter’ line. One subtle kick and chase had the Morpeth backs scrambling to get the ball to safety. Could one advantage cancel the other out? Could we be heading for a draw?
As the game wrestled to the half’s mid-way point Park were offered an opportunity to put points on the board. As the ball was stuck in the middle of the field the Morpeth scrum half tipped Captain Jonny Dubois on his head, leaving him in a dishevelled heap for several minutes. Despite calls from the ‘Peth’ support (Morpeth is not called murder path for nothing!) that our leader was ‘milking it’, the physios resuscitating skills had Dubois back in the game. The referee saw that Morpeth were down by one for ten.
Park kicked to the corner. With the line out won they elected to ‘pick and go’. Unfortunatly the Park pack went ‘one too many’ allowing the Morpeth rearguard to disrupt their efforts and gain a territory relieving penalty kick. Park continued to press with Richard Chadwick ‘pulling the strings’. Morpeth were hanging on. Penalty Park. Morpeth offside. Although ‘some way out’ the kick was in front of the posts. Ash Smith took the strike but was unable to make the distance.
As the game’ ebbed and flowed Morpeth made a telling break through the Park mid field as centre James Phillips went careering past several attempted tackles. As he burst for the line a last ditch tackle brought him to the ground and his attempted off load falling into the grateful hands of a black and white shirt.
The ‘mighty Peth’ remained dominant in the scrum with Michael Langlands forced to clear up at the back
Player coach Ash Smith was probing the Morpeth defence with some intelligent kicks turning the opposition and encouraging the chase. With Josh ‘The Lighthouse’ Hedley winning line out ball Park had their fair share of possession. Yet failed to orchestrate any real attempt on the Morpeth line. On the other side Morpeth were doing little to threaten the Park line.
One frightful kick from Smith saw the ball slice off his foot into the hands of Seb Rees. Good feet had him dancing through the defence. With a gap opening up just inside the 22, Rees elected to punt the ball ahead. With a predatory chase, Rees agonizingly saw the ball roll out of the back of the infield goal area. The crowd were on their feet, followed by throaty roars of ‘great pass Ash’ and ‘what a pass kick’….that comment had the author researching the same …and yes that term does exist...however not in Rugby Union but in the NFL (Aussie Rules Football)…so there you have it a truly great pass kick by Smith!!
As the game progressed Park continued to be penalised in the scrum and Morpeth in the loose. With Ethan Wilson aggravating the Morpeth pack it was no great surprise when our own Josh Hedley had a dispute with the Morpeth captain Carl Hill. With Hedley riled, his long reach intercepted a hopeful pass. A quick offload had Ethan Wilson chopped down from an offside position and the Morpeth second row dispatched to the bin. Park were handed another opportunity to make a numerical superiority count.
More Park pressure on the Morpeth line. With ball in hand the Park players played into the Morpeth defence. As ground was gained, advantage time was ticking away. Park to the Morpeth try line. A real mess left the ball unattended, as a willing Park player went to pick it up, the Morpeth 8 came flying through and with a ‘no arms’ tackle steam-rollered over the prostrate player. With the offence not picked up, Chadwick ripped the ball and once more Park had possession. With the outstanding Rees in control and Hedley on the loop Park looked like they were in at the corner. As the pass went to a charging winger a forward pass was given to the dismay of both player and spectator.
Half time 0-0
As the second half took off Park made several changes. One such substitution saw the pivotal Chadwick leave the field to be replaced by the emerging talent of Cameron Coates. Could his pace be influential in breaking the deadlock?
The game returned to a similar pattern. Park struggling in the scrum. Possession ran back into the Morpeth defence. Penalties on both sides in advantageous positions. One such moment had a line out to Percy Park and the pack destroying all in their wake only to be brought back for a ‘truck and trailer’ offence. With Ethan Wilson making a right nuisance of himself. The referee and the vocal Morpeth support took notice. And it was not long before the referee lost patience and penalised our player for ‘not rolling away’. With yellow card shown Park were down to 14. With the penalty in front of the Park posts it was 3-0 to Morpeth. The deadlock had been broken.
From the kick off ‘Peth’ broke several tackles and stretched the Park defence forcing Park out wide. Failing to make that decisive tackle the Morpeth winger was in at the corner. With the conversion missed it was 8-0 to Morpeth and the pendulum had swung.
As Park tried to regain a foothold in the game passes were missed, balls dropped and players stripped of the ball. On one occasion Park were saved by a tremendous Ross Young tackle. Player coach Ash Smith began to order his troops about and take responsibility. Making a great break Smith was brought to ground by two tacklers. The eventual pass given to Liam Blackburn who set off at real pace only to be thwarted by a lack of space as he was marshalled out of play.
The play became rough and the Morpeth 8 was handed a yellow card for a cheap shot on scrum half Jared Deacon who was having a steady game. Numerical advantage to Park. Penalty miss in front of the posts. A great move had Seb Rees in for the score yet he could not hold the pass as he was pressured by his opposite number. For all their work Park could not break down the organised and resolute Northumberland side.
Park chased the game and as they did so Chadwick returned to the fray at full back. Releasing Grove to the back line. Park had missed Michael Grove’s guile and pace as we were unable to get him into the contest. Yet the strategy did not bring its reward as a lazy pass put Percy Park under pressure. And that pressure told when Morpeth kicked ahead catching Chadwick flat footed. Unable to turn quickly enough before the Morpeth player had dotted down to score. The try converted. 15-0 Morpeth.
Back to the wrestle. Wilson warned off the referee and fortunate not to be given a second yellow and a dismissal. A Liam Blackburn break had the support on its toes. A kick ahead the try looked on then a tackle without the ball and an immediate yellow to Morpeth prevented the try scoring attempt. A quickly taken penalty saw Park to the score line, the ball kept in the centre with Austin Phillips bull dozing through and over. The conversion taken 15-7. Time was against. Park needed possession at the kick off.
A high floating kick off saw Phillips under the ball and his opposite number charging forward to collect. Phillips stood tall (a bit like an enraged grizzly bear) allowing his opponent to destroy himself. With the line out to Morpeth they gained possession and set up a play at the ruck, only to be devastated by an enraged Phillips. Something had really upset the big man. Yet possession won. Rees was away. As the play worked into the Morpeth half hopes were high that Park could rescue something from the game. Yet a disputed penalty call in favour to the home side saw a long kick to the corner. A kick, that to many looked to have gone out over the try line. Not given the throw was ‘on the 5’ allowing Morpeth to see out the tie and become victorious.
Morpeth as ever were gracious in defeat; yet it wasn’t a great Park performance and all know that we really should have taken advantage of our numerical advantage and got something from the game. As Coach Lawrence Patton observed ‘’ Odd game. In the first half we fell into (the contest being) 0-0 and throughout really struggled to break down their defence. We actually played to their defence. Although I see a lot to be encouraged about as we are asking a lot and introducing change. I am confident we will get there’’….so there we have it …..We may be disappointed today but the future looks promising. Next week Percy Park are at home to West Leeds kick off is at 3pm.
However I wish to leave you all with one thought. Our erudite President believed that Morpeth got away with a lot as they were ‘fishing for the ball’… As I have already learnt a lot about a ‘kick pass’ this week can anyone explain that one to me? ....... All answers on a post card c/o Hackinson at Percy Park RFC. See you next week. C’mon Park!!