Frustrating home loss for Pocklington RUFC

Pocklington RUFC skipper Ben Rees is tackled just short of the try-line during his side's North One East defeat to Morpeth
Pocklington RUFC skipper Ben Rees is tackled just short of the try-line during his side's North One East defeat to Morpeth

Pocklington RUFC’s 1st XV endured a frustrating afternoon as they somehow managed to lose 8-7 at home to Morpeth despite spending 70 of the 80 minutes on the attack.

Mick Watson’s side camped in the visitors’ 22 for long periods of the North One East clash, but were only able to get over the line once, when skipper Ben Rees touched down after half an hour.

Before and after that single home score, the visitors’ defensive organisation against Pocklington’s hard, straight running kept them afloat.

And the tackle area was to prove crucial, the home side being frequently penalised at the breakdown, while the Tynesiders pulled off a series of crucial turnovers, then stole the result when they scored on two rare visits to home territory.

From the kick-off, Pocklington went straight onto the offensive and stayed there.

They came close in each corner through lock Karl Durkin and wing Charlie Wilson, then scrum-half Rees drove up the middle and got to within a yard of the line.

But the hosts then gave away a penalty and allowed Morpeth to clear.

Twice more Pocklington got to within sight of the try-line in the first quarter, only to be halted by a penalty whistle.

However, the away side’s clearance kicks freqently landed in play and were the men from Percy Road were soon running hard back upfield with wing Tim Nixon and centre Billy Hardy making a series of strong charges.

Although they were on the back foot, Morpeth tackled strongly and organised their resources to keep Pocklington at bay, and the first time the visitors got into the home half after 25 minutes they set the alarm bells ringing with a dangerous loop move.

This brief foray forward also saw them fire a penalty wide before the hosts regained the initiative to pound at the red and white line for the rest of the half. Despite continuing to be penalised - the first half penalty count was 9-3 in Morpeth’s favour.

Nevertheless, it was a penalty to Pocklington that started the move that finally broke the deadlock.

Number eight Joe Brown took a quick tap, and wing Nixon took it on and was thrust over the line by the home forwards but was held up.

From the five-metre scrum, skipper Rees ran a diagonal and used his stength to twist over, then got up to land the conversion from wide out.

Pocklington went straight back and again camped on the Morpeth line through to the interval, but Rees saw a penalty kick go wide and the half ended typically with Pocklington hammering up the middle only for Morpeth to turn the ball over.

Pocklington were all over their opponents on the restart.

They attacked down both flanks, fly-half Matt Procter drilling a couple of kicks into the corner, and a promising attack in the far corner was thwarted when the last pass went to a Morpeth man a yard out.

The visitors then broke out and kicked a penalty to reduce the arrears to 7-3.

Things then quickly got worse for the home team as they tried to take a quick kick-off which saw centre Pete Massie concussed.

The medical attention to Massie saw the game switched to the club’s back pitch, where the pattern of Pocklington being unable to batter through Morpeth’s determined defence continued.

Though they continued to have problems at the breakdown, the hosts ruled the lineouts through locks Durkin and Archie Fothergill; but ironically it was a Morpeth line-out that won the day.

Another penalty in the loose allowed Morpeth to kick for the scout hut corner and they rumbled over from a catch and drive.

Pocklington resumed the attack and they threw the kitchen sink at their visitors in the closing stages but a resolute rearguard action saw the away side hold out for the one-point win.