Late rally not enough as relegation battle looms

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth.
Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth.

Dinnington’s predicament towards the bottom of North 1 East was made slightly worse as they were out-muscled by a visiting Morpeth side that inched themselves nearer to safety.

It now looks like a three-way battle for Dinnington to avoid joining Guisborough and Wheatley in the relegation zone.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth. 'Matt Shaw in action for Dinnington.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth. 'Matt Shaw in action for Dinnington.

Dinnington are currently fourth bottom with 44 points, two points clear of Durham City but having played a game more.

Dinnington are four points behind Percy Park.

Guisborough and Wheatley are cut adrift at the bottom with 11 and three points respectively.

Earlier in the season, Morpeth’s pack caused Dinnington all sorts of problems and this return fixture proved the same.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth.

Dinnington had the elements behind them in the first half but knocked-on on their first two possessions before finding themselves defending on their own line. Good defence stopped a catch and drive and then more of the same prevented Morpeth making any advance from a scrum ten metres out.

The pressure was momentarily relieved by a penalty, but when Morpeth came back on the attack they took the lead with an eighth-minute penalty.

Dinnington had a chance to reply almost straight away as they broke out of their own half, only for play to be brought back to award them a scrum.

The home side then enjoyed a period of pressure with several catch-and-drives.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth.                    'Ryan Donnelly, captain.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth. 'Ryan Donnelly, captain.

They were stopped short from the first two attempts, but from the third Will Marshall peeled off and twisted his way over the line to put Dinnington 5-3 ahead at the mid-point of the first half.

Morpeth were allowed to break out of their own half following the restart and that set up a spell of pressure from the visitors, which culminated in a try in the corner ten minutes before half-time.

Dinnington lost possession on their next attack, again allowing Morpeth to counter.

The visitors set up a catch-and-drive from a lineout following a kick to the corner, which resulted in a try under the posts and a 15-5 half-time lead for the visitors.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth. 'Johnny West.

Dinnington RUFC v Morpeth. 'Johnny West.

Dinnington had the first attack of the second half, but a chip-and-chase went into touch before the ball could be gathered.

However, a high tackle then gave the home side a chance to kick to the corner, setting up a catch-and-drive.

This was stopped illegally and Morpeth had a player sin-binned with Jonny West opting to take the points.

The home side had another attacking position moments later, but Morpeth stole the ball and cleared.

The visitors seized possession again at the lineout and that became the pattern of the second half.

Another steal led to Dinnington having a player sin-binned.

With ten minutes of the half played, having won a lineout Dinnington turned the ball over as they set up a maul. Morpeth moved the ball wide to score and go 22-8 ahead.

Morpeth lifted the pressure on Dinnington with the home side struggling at the lineouts and giving penalties away at the scrum.

Although they did have the occasional break, Dinnington too often lost the ball.

Ten minutes from time, Morpeth turned the ball over and ran in another try to lead 27-8 before Dinnington rallied and finished the game strongly.

With five minutes to go a chip over the top brought them a lineout inside the Morpeth 22, but the visitors were able to clear.

However, two minutes later the home side were back and a tip-tackle gave them a penalty.

A quick tap and go was wasted with a knock-on, but another penalty allowed them to work the ball close to the line where Marshall broke off and smashed his was over.

West added the conversion but it was too late for Dinnington to try for a bonus point.

Dinnington travel to fifth-placed Bradford and Bingley tomorrow with five matches left to play, chasing their eighth league win of the season.