BRODS are staring relegation from North One East in the face after prop Karl Campbell scored twice in the last 10 minutes for fellow strugglers Morpeth.
The Woodhead men slipped into the relegation zone for the first time this season and their fate will be decided up the A1 next weekend when they must beat mid-table Northern and hope that Morpeth, now safe, still have the stomach for a fight against local rivals Old Crossleyans, who lead the Woodhead men by two points.
Just lifting the Brods players may be a major challenge for coach Ian Armitage after Saturday’s crushing disapppointment, when they imploded and threw away a 20-13 lead.
A 68th minute Danny Wood penalty gave them that advantage and when they regained possession at the restart the coaching staff screamed for Brods to use the breeze and clear upfield.
However, fullback Wood was in no position to kick and Rob Jennings’s long, loose pass landed them in trouble.
Morpeth swooped on the loose ball and their increasing forward dominance enabled Campbell to plunge over for a try, converted by Matty Jinks.
Although Wood nudged the hosts back in front with an excellent 35 metre penalty on 76 minutes, Campbell repeated the feat with the final play of the game three minutes into added time, Jinks adding the extras for the cock-a-hoop visitors.
In an even contest, Brods had a good deal of possession but are simply not the attacking force that they were a few seasons ago.
Unable to construct anything meaningful in the backs, they have become more and more reliant on back rowers Jennings, Luke Scrimshaw and Ollie Akroyd to puncture the opposition defence.
Jennings’ breaks paved the way for both their tries but generally it was a laboured performance and Brods, after winning their first five league games of the season, have now won only four more in 20 outings since.
Morpeth, with the early decision going their way, took the lead with an eighth-minute penalty from accomplished marksman Jinks after centre Richard Holborough’s “hit” was ruled illegal.
Brods were playing careful rugby, scrum half Joe Armitage electing to delay the release of the ball from the rucks.
Penalties which would have been fairly straightforward on another day were turned down in favour of kicks to touch but the wind was making throwing in at the lineouts tricky.
However, Brods took the lead on 18 minutes after Ollie Hawkins had supported a break from Jennings and Morpeth had been penalised at the breakdown.
Akroyd secured lineout ball and with Morpeth committing surprisingly few forwards to the resulting driving maul, Scrimshaw was able to touch down. Wood added a decent conversion.
Brods were soon back on the attack but Morpeth cleared to the other end where centre Will Thornton kicked to the left corner and the ball sat up nicely for winger Ben Hornby to score, Jinks’ fine kick from close to touch making the score 7-10.
Morpeth were walking a disciplinary tightrope and although no yellow cards were forthcoming, Wood levelled matters with a dead straight penalty from 30 metres three minutes before the break.
If Brods needed a tonic they got it immediately after the interval with an excellent try. Jennings broke from just inside his half with Holborough in support and although the centre’s pass to winger Aaron Fowler was far from perfect, Akroyd backed up superbly to take an inside ball and gallop over.
Wood converted but Jinks immediately cut the deficit to 17-13 before a lull in the game for the next 20 minutes.
Youngster Wood marred a generally good goalkicking performance by crashing a fairly straightfoward penalty against the left hand upright on 56 minutes but he stretched the lead to seven points after Brods, under increasing pressure in the scrum, had surprisingly taken one against the head and won a penalty.
Then came the blunder from the restart and although Aaron Fowler’s fine tackle snuffed out the initial threat,
Morpeth battered away from the line and Campbell touched down at the side of the posts for Jinks to make it 20-20.
Wood restored the lead with a good pressure kick but Morpeth sensed they could snatch victory and did it in a move instigated by Jinks from just inside his own half and finished by Campbell.