Morley Win Mudbath
Two much changed sides from the reciprocal contest earlier in the season faced off in dreadful conditions with Morley coming out on top.
Given the weather we have endured on the Wirral last week and knowing how sodden fields and lawns were we set off for Morley with some trepidation given that they had snow earlier in the week and that they had arranged for a pitch inspection early on Saturday morning. It was “passed fit” provided there was no more rain. As we pulled into Birch Service Station the sleet was coming down and there was a mild covering on Saddleworth Moor. The pitch at Morley looked very heavy before anyone stepped onto the pitch.
Wirral made a number of changes; JAMES ANNETTS had been unwell overnight and was replaced at full back by Mark Williams
. Mark Gidman
was called from his slumbers to start again on the wing and DAN HARVEY returned to the centre. In the forwards Hayden Long
came into the second row with Paul Lewis
on the subs bench alongside Steve Pendergast
and JAMES REEVES.
From the Morley team which played at Wirral earlier in the season there were many changes and have been recruiting strongly.
From the kick-off Wirral caught but then lost possession and this set up Morley who kicked for the corner and from the line out, which they won, mauled their way towards the try line only to be brought back for being held up over the line. From the resultant scrum they then mauled their way over the whitewash with Brendon Hammon (no.8) touching down wide out and was well converted by Mark Chesters. 7-0 (5 minutes). The next phased of play saw a kicking battle which Wirral lost when kicking direct into touch, giving Morley possession in the Wirral half and subsequently awarded a penalty, which was well taken by Chesters from some 33m out to increase the lead to 10-0 (11 minutes).
Eventually Wirral got into the Morley half (15th minute) and from SAM BROADBENTS first carry he suffered a shoulder injury which meant he could not carry on. Paul Lewis
came into fly half with CRAIG moving to centre. At this stage the pitch was beginning to cut up quite significantly. At last Wirral were able to control the ball and using the forwards worked the 35m towards the Morley line and after many phases of play were 5m out, the ball was then spun left through 3 pairs of hands before DAN HARVEY put Mark Williams
in at the corner, the conversion was missed. 10-5- 20 minutes. Back came Wirral to put the Morley defence under pressure with the same tactics, the forwards slowly advancing forward in the sticky cloying mud but after many phases the ball was lost and Morley to their relief cleared. A knock on and a penalty gave Morley a presence in the Wirral half, a kick through by fly half, Chesters caused problems when two Wirral players nearly allowed the Morley winger to slide in and beat them to touch down, fortunately he knocked on. Wirral never cleared this ball from the area and a Morley scrum saw them push towards the line, the ball was kicked forward which resulted in the referee awarding a penalty drive and then sin binning , Josh Stead
, who happened to be the innocent party but mistaken identity. 17-5 (36 minutes) and score at half –time.
came on for Keith Mahon
. The third quarter saw both sides slugging away trying to make vital metres. Wirral made progress with line out 8 m from the Morley line and were mauling forward, Morley came in from the side to stop the move but the action was not seen by the referee. On 60minutes, a Craig Harvey
penalty of 50m took play down to the Morley 20m line and the ball went down the line where Matt Loon
made progress down the wing only to be tackled a few metres out, the ball was recycled and a training ground move saw DAN HARVEY running in unopposed to score under the posts, the try was converted by CRAIG, 17-12 (61 minutes). Immediately Morley hit back when a move and delayed pass by Chesters allowed the centre to split the Wirral defence which led to winger Danny Thomas scoring in the corner, the conversion was missed. Steve Pendergast
came on for Chris Hughes
The final minutes saw Wirral with a large share of possession but the Morley defence continued to keep Wirral in midfield but as the match edged towards the end, Wirral found new heart and controlled play again took play into the Morley 20m area and good passing amongst the backs saw CRAIG HSARVEY dive over in the corner and then converted from the touchline 22-19. The try came too late for Wirral to mount one of their late charges and much as they tried in time added on could not break the Morley defence.
This is Morley’s second win in a row and they have obviously recruited well and perhaps are in a false position in the league. With a number of matches cancelled Wirral remain in 6th and next week play Billingham, who are currently lying immediately above Wirral in the league, kick off 2.15 pm- if the rain stops!!