Sat. 14th February 2015. Northern Wanderers vs Morpeth Reivers. Candy Trophy semi-final - away.
An eventful Saturday with drama from the start culminated in Northern just falling short in a match they could have won. With lock Finn Healy involved in a road accident outside the ground Northern were forced to re-shuffle their pack before the game with replacement back row Gyles Ellison moving into the second row. Finn was ok after his road accident but his van was written off along with a few trees.
Northern started in excellent form taking the game to Morpeth from the kick off. From a Northern scrum on the Morpeth 22 a no. 8 pick-up and drive from Ian Brierley pushed the Morpeth defence back and the recycled ball was spun wide for outside centre Harrison Clark to surge over for a fine try on 3 minutes converted by hooker Ryan Moore. Northern continued to press with Morpeth’s only response through their kicking game. Confusion in the Northern fielding gave Morpeth a scrum 10 metres out on 15 minutes and Morpeth’s big back row picked up and drove over for a converted try. Northern’s exit strategy was poor and instead of using the wind and kicking long from their 22 they seemed obsessed with trying to run out of defence. Morpeth found them out on 23 minutes when good pressing forced Northern to concede a penalty for holding on. Morpeth tapped and again their big forwards powered over for another converted try. Northern finally woke up and followed the game plan by moving the ball quickly to their pacey backs. Good hands from Harrison Clark found his centre partner Spike Strang 60 metres out. The centre showed good composure and shimmied through the gap in the Morpeth midfield to run in for a super try on 31 minutes. The conversion attempt to tie the game was just pulled wide by Ryan Moore despite a good strike. Northern then switched off again and conceded a penalty on 38 minutes in their 22 after again failing to clear the ball. Morpeth scored from another tapped penalty in a carbon copy of their previous try, however the conversion attempt was missed. Half time score: Morpeth Reivers 19 – Northern Wanderers 12.
Northern started the second half in a daze and managed to turn over the kick off despite a fine take by lock Gyles Ellison. The Morpeth pack put in a mighty drive and crashed over out wide for an unconverted try on 42 minutes. Northern bounced back on 43 minutes with a penalty by hooker Ryan Moore after Morpeth infringed from the re-start. This galvanised Northern into action and a good break by Harrison Clark from his 22 on 46 minutes almost lead to a try when he took out the last defender on the Morpeth 10 metre line with a clever delayed pass but with wing Henry Kilpatrick outside him supporting lock Patrick Douglas was just unable to hold onto the ball and an almost certain 7 points was missed. The Northern pack was starting to build some momentum and Northern were awarded a penalty on 50 minutes 15 metes out from the Morpeth line. Sadly, the referee reversed the decision and sin-binned back row Matt Brooks for stamping. This cost Northern as Morpeth pressed Northern back and on 58 minutes their centre scored a fine unconverted try after coming on a good line from just outside the Northern 22. Northern did regain some momentum once they were back to a full complement and could have scored another try on 63 minutes when a great chase by full back Dan Matthews caught the Morpeth full back 10 metres from the line. Northern’s chasers looked to be best placed to pick up the loose ball and score but somehow a Morpeth defender managed to gather and kick the ball out for a Northern line out. Northern continued to press but Morpeth defended resolutely to see the game out. Final score: Morpeth Reivers 29 – Northern Wanderers 15.
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