Rugby Union: Morley edge thriller to earn promotion

Morley celebrate after beating Kirkby Lonsdale in the play-offs. Pic: Dennis Elam
Morley celebrate after beating Kirkby Lonsdale in the play-offs. Pic: Dennis Elam

Morley secured promotion to National Three North with a 38-33 extra-time play-off victory over Kirkby Lonsdale on Saturday.

The Maroons looked doomed when the hosts swept into a 14-point lead with only eight minutes gone.

Mark Chester opened Morley’s account with a penalty and repeated the feat soon after to make it 14-6.

The gap was reduced to a single point when Josh Longson picked-up from a scrum to go over in the corner and Chester added the touchline goal to put the game back in the balance at the break.

The visitors’ purple patch ended four minutes into the second period when Kirkby grabbed their third of the game but the end-to-end rugby continued with Harri Collier crashing over and Chester adding the extras to put Morley in front for the first time.

That lead lasted only a minute however, good recycling from the home forwards putting them 26-20 ahead, but a good spell of pressure from the visitors resulted in a penalty, landed by Chester on 69 minutes.

Both sides missed penalties as nerves became frayed and the Maroons looked to be destined for another season in North One East as the game went deep into injury time.

However, there was still time for more drama and after patient build-up play, Morley were awarded a penalty that Chester held his nerve to convert and force extra time.

Morley made a great start to the extra 20 minutes when breaks from Dante van der Merwe and Bradshaw resulted in Iain Sim crashing over but back came the home side and a converted score edged them 33-31 ahead.

Morley continued to use their backs to attack Kirkby and their efforts were rewarded when van der Merwe’s break caused panic and the ball was sent out to Scott Glynn to touch-down.

Chester converted and Morley held firm in the last five minutes to clinch promotion and spark jubilant scenes within the visitors’ ranks.