It’s a funny old game. Sorry, I shouldn’t have used such a well-worn phrase but needs must especially when it comes to Sheffield rugby club.
Who would have backed the Abbeydale side to come back with anything from their trip to in-form North 1 East rivals Morpeth after consecutive defeats to Durham City and Billingham?
You’d most likely have got better odds on Ireland winning the World Cup (sorry Tommy!) but Sheffield have that knack of proving people wrong and so it proved at Morpeth as they came away with a comprehensive 29-13 victory and a bonus point.
Alex Hill was the star of the show with a hat-trick of tries, his first coming after just four minutes when exchanges between Andy Kelly, Matt Poste and Donal Collins ended with Collins kicking over the defence for Hill to catch and score. Collins added the conversion from the touch line and it was game on.
Sheffield who were without second row, Kyle Howard and open-side flanker Martin Balshaw - they were replaced by Tom White and Laurence Thomas - then engaged in a short period of kicking ping-pong before the home side bagged a penalty to cut the gap to four points.More penalty chances followed - two for Morpeth and one for Sheffield - but all were squandered until a searing run from deep by centre Joe Cribley ended with Hill crossing the try line once more for an unconverted try after 28 minutes.
Morpeth landed a penalty shortly before the break to make it 12-6.
Sheffield struck again six minutes into the second half when quick-thinking by Dave McCabe resulted in a drop goal from 20 metres. However, the home side upped the pressure and reduced the defict to two points with a converted try. Kelly and Co. regrouped once again and Cribley shredded the defence to pieces once again before handing on to his wing man and Hill completed his hat-trick. Collins landed the conversion and suddenly Sheffield were nine points to the good. Almost immediately Hill had a chance for a fourth but the final pass went agonisingly forward with the line only feet away. Sheffield continued to batter at the Morpeth try line and eventually second row Tom White crashed over for that vital bonus point try with 37 minutes of the half gone. Collins again added the conversion and Sheffield were in the clear.
Team: Ewan Reed, James Montgomery, Joe Cribley, Dave McCabe, Alex Hill, Donal Collins, Matt Poste, Tommy Marples, Carl Mortimer, Chris Machen, John Dudley, Tom White, Dave Ellis, Laurence Thomas, Andy Kelly (capt). Replacements: Will Bennett, Mark Walker, Tom King.
Hopefully there will be more of the same against Northern at Abbeydale on Saturday (3pm).