05 Apr Morley 13 – 8 Kirkby Lonsdale
A point of few
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
As Morley try to battle their way out of the relegation zone their match notes mention they are without a key player for this game. Contrast that with Kirkby who were without a lot more than that which saw players from the development squad in the form of prop James Law, second row James Fishwick starting the match with their colleagues Callum Little, Will Brown and Josh Maddock making up the bench.
Morley have a big pack and the lighter Kirkby eight knew they were in for a struggle in that capacity but as they kicked off left to right in front of the clubhouse and down the wind they took the game to Morley. A Dave Barton chip over into the try zone caused problems for the home side but they were able to win the race to the fingertip touchdown and prevent a try.
The first scrum came following a Kirkby knock on on the home twenty two and, predictably, from their put in (feed) Morley held the ball at eight and drove Kirkby back but although they had possession good cover tackling kept them in their own half and when they infringed Kirkby had a penalty kick at goal from around thirty metres. It was good to see Ryan Terry at goal kicking full back but he’s a little rusty from lack of game time and his kick hit the crossbar, bounced back into Morley hands and Kirkby came away pointless from their early territorial advantage.
It was eight minutes before Morley crossed the half way line but in the awful slimy conditions it was their turn to knock on for a Kirkby scrum although it was no surprise when Kirkby skidded backwards as Morley drove over the ball to gain possession. Again good tackling in open play close to the line kept them out and when an error brought the ball Kirkby’s way it was whipped out to young left wing Harry Huddleston who was off like a hare down the line beating a couple of tackles to take play into the home twenty two. He was eventually held but the ball was recycled and moved quickly right down the line to centre Matt Bargh, comfortable in his accustomed position, who cut through for the try, Terry’s conversion shaved the post on the wrong side but Kirkby led 0 – 5 at the end of the first quarter.
Kirkby winger Harry Ralston had picked up a knock earlier and being unable to run it off was replaced by Josh Maddock for the rest of the game. In the second quarter Morley began to exert pressure keeping the ball close and driving off powerful runs from their big number eight Brandon Hannam and if it wasn’t him it was their big second rows. In an excellent passage of play they put the ball through twenty one phases as they advanced towards the Kirkby line and an inevitable try, converted by their stand-off and Captain Mark Chester to give Morley a 7 – 5 lead with ten minutes of the half left to play.
There was no further score before half time although Bargh came very close when he saw a gap and ran an angle but was tackled on the line with Huddleston spare on the outside. In the few minutes remaining there was more bad news for Kirkby as they began to run out of players when centre Tom Pickthall limped off to take no further part in the game, being replaced by Callum Little in his first run out of the season in the first team.
If that wasn’t bad enough Kirkby handed a dream second half start to Morley when confusion between two players saw the Morley re start kick dropped just inside the twenty two. The home forwards would have been licking their lips as they jogged towards the scrum and sure enough Kirkby coughed up a penalty which Chester slotted to make it 10 – 5.
Kirkby did narrow it to 10 – 8 after ten minutes with a Terry penalty but ten minutes later a Chester penalty replaced the margin to take Morley to 13 – 8 at the end of the third quarter. Little went off and Will Brown came on, the bench was empty and Kirkby shuffled what remaining resources they had with positional changes, one example being Stu Storey rotating between wing and seven when there was a scrum, where the home pack had run out of steam.
Kirkby couldn’t shift them at the scrum but they now couldn’t shift Kirkby either and this gave Kirkby a platform to exploit their fitness and pace. In this way Kirkby had the better of the last quarter with enough possession and territory to win the game but tactically they seemed to blow it when good possession was repeatedly kicked away for runners. What looked like try scoring opportunities continually broke down, Morley were under great pressure but with some good defence alongside the Kirkby mistakes they were able to hang on for the win at 13 – 8.
And here’s the point of few. Kirkby took yet another another losing bonus point from this game which takes their total of these to ten, by some distance the highest total of these points of any club in the league and a point which gives them unassailable security in the Northern Premier league for next season. And there’s another point, how to win some of those games they so narrowly lose and this has to be a focus.
And one more hugely positive point. To consolidate promotion and retain Northern Premier league status at level five in the national leagues was the target at the start of the season so the squad now has 100% success in that! Nobody said it would be easy, some thought it couldn’t be done but Kirkby are a quality outfit, a rare and special club and the statistics show they were never really in danger.
To guarantee league status with three games to play is a terrific achievement of which the team, the coaching staff and the physio’s (where do they find all that tape?) can be extremely proud and the Supporters, Sponsors and Everyone involved with the Club are extremely proud of them. Let’s all enjoy the run in as “we” take on Wirral at OUR Underley Park next Saturday.
1 James Law
2 Dan Armistead
3 Tyran Fagan
4 James Fishwick
5 Matt Hughes
6 Ross Towers
7 Stuart Storey
8 Craig Galbraith
9 Ben Walker
10 Dave Barton
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Tom Pickthall
13 Matthew Bargh
14 Harry Ralston
15 Ryan Terry
16 Callum Little
17 Will Brown
18 Josh Maddock