Cruel bounce pivotal as Morpeth edge out Percy Park
In a game that went from end to end it was a wicked bounce that eventually separated Percy Park and Morpeth.
And it was Park who should have been five points to the good rather than an elated Morpeth side, who were looking to the skies giving thanks.
On a grey breezy Saturday afternoon the two forward packs went at each other with gusto, and true to form as soon as the Park backs got the ball in hand the game exploded into life with a miss-pass putting centre Seb Rees into space. From his own 22 he attacked that space, scything through the Morpeth defence with Michael Grove in support. With only the full-back to beat the young centre delayed the scoring pass and in doing so placed the ball behind the supporting player and the opportunity to score was lost.
Morpeth who drew first blood. With Park pressing Morpeth in their half, a loss of possession allowed the Morpeth fly-half to get his hands on the ball. With the aid of a missed tackle he was away and the scrum-half was in and under the posts. A try that was duly converted.
The visitors then added a well taken penalty.
Rees had asked questions of a Morpeth defence that did not like to be taken wide and it was no surprise when Park moved the ball to the wing a Morpeth hand was seen to deliberately knock the ball forward and deny a possible score in the corner. A yellow card followed and down to 14 Morpeth were in trouble.
Two minutes later Park were awarded a penalty try as a Morpeth player was adjudged to tackled high in the players attempt to prevent Park from scoring.
A well-timed miss pass put flanker Josh Lake through the Morpeth defence and a well-deserved try under the posts. With Grove converting Park were ahead at the turn 14-10.
Morpeth’s scrum-half placed a high kick ahead and chased after the ball in a one-on-one. With Faatau being the last man the ball struck the ground and bounced over the head of the chasing Park full-back and nestled nicely into the arms of the also chasing Morpeth scrum-half. Despite a desperate tackle from Faatau the Morpeth player was able to pop the ball up to a supporting colleague to score.
Michael Langlands set up replacement Andy McGrath and he put Keppa Latu into the corner for a fine forwards try, which was converted to make it 21-15.
With time running out, an audacious chip ahead for a chasing player coming through traffic was collected and with the ball in broken play the inevitable Morpeth score was made.
Then Park lost possession again and Morpeth added another converted try.
The last score went to Park, Michael Grove scoring, but the conversion was missed and Morpeth won 29-26.