1st XV v Morley
First game in 4 weeks and a bad start to the New Year.
Report by Joe Maud with Photos from Rob Long.
January 5th and York welcome Morley RUFC to Clifton Park where there is a chill in the air but the conditions for free flowing rugby are excellent. York included three players new to the 1st XV this season - Will Scholey returning from Otley, former Colts Joe Simpson and Freddie Smith, a young man who has been performing well for the second team all season.
Morley started the game and Luke Stockton took the ball very well and set up for York to exit their half. However, good Morley pressure on the York 10 resulted in a poor kick, allowing Morley to gather the ball and attack York. Morley built some very good phases of play and looked dangerous, spreading the ball left and right, but for now, the York defence hold strong. The attack came to an end when the evergreen Andy Ellis of Morley carried the ball forward, but was held up by York’s Will Scholey and York were awarded the scrum.
Most the game was being played in the middle of the field, with both teams looking like they needed a bit of fortune to break the deadlock. Morley had a lineout on the halfway line; there was good pressure in the lineout from York’s Lewis Hannibal forcing Morley to spill the ball backwards. The Morley prop was first to react and gather the ball. Morley recycled well and the ball was spread into the hands of Mark Chester who found his inside centre Andy Ellis running a great line and splitting the York defence like the Red Sea. He found a great offload to Morley’s scrum half, who then made the final pass to allow a Morley try in the corner. The conversion was missed from out wide; York 0 – Morley 5.From the restart York gathered the ball and started to build pressure. Strong carrying from both Darren Rutherford and Shane Goulding took York forward and forced Morley into giving away a penalty. York opted to go for goal, but the kick by George Davies was pushed wide.
The game continued with neither team really grabbing a hold of the tie and possession of the ball swung from side to side. This all changed when a bit of class came from the Morley back line. They spread the ball to the left touchline, before some great hands and running lines back across the field left the York defence confused and the Morley right winger scored in the corner. This time the conversion was successful and Morley lead 0 -12. Morley then gathered from the kick off and scored almost straight away off the back of some poor York defence. This looked like it could be a tough day for the home side; York 0 – 19 Morley.
York started to grow into the game - again with strong carries from Luke Stockton and the excellent Shane Goulding. This resulted in Kerry Wood of Morley doing what he does best and trying to slow the York ball down by lying on the wrong side. However, the referee saw what he was up to and awarded York the penalty. York kicked to the corner and drove from the lineout. The maul was collapsed by Morley hooker Jacob Percival and the referee asked him to take ten minutes rest with a yellow card. York kicked to the corner again and from the lineout formed the driving maul. Again this is brought down by Morley and one of their props is sent to join Percival in the bin; Morley are down to 13 men. From the resulting penalty, York took the scrum. Shane Goulding picked up from 8 metres and offloaded to York’s craftiest of veterans, Toby Atkin who crossed the whitewash to open York’s scoring. George Davies kicked the conversion. 7 – 19.
With a 2 man advantage, York started to dominate the game. Sam Forbes, filling the 12 shirt to the absolute brim carried well and was held up just short of the line. York were awarded a 5 metre scrum. From the base, Toby Atkin passed to Liam Hessay who found a small gap and crossed just to the right of the posts to score. Conversion was again successful from George Davies; 14 – 19 at half time.
After a promising start to the second half for York, it was Morley who got the first score. A clever chip and chase from their left winger left the York defence scrambling back. York’s Rich Downey did very well to get back and cover, but was beaten by an offload and Morley scored their bonus point try. 14 – 24.York restarted and some solid work on the ground from Darren Rutherford won York a penalty. They kicked to the corner again and set up the driving maul. This time Morley cannot bring it down and Luke Stockton latched onto the ball and got over for the score. The conversion attempt is unsuccessful and York now trailed 19 – 24. That was York’s final score of the day and it seemed that they had run out of steam. Morley really got a grip of the game and started dominating possession, going on to score a further 3 tries. The final score for the game was York 19 – Morley 39.
A very disappointing day at the office for York, who are still waiting on several senior players to return and help boost the squad. However, take nothing away from Morley, they were strong across the whole team and fully deserved their victory.