TYNEDALE Raiders’ losing streak in the Candy League continued despite a close encounter away to Morpeth Reivers.

They were defeated 20-14 after a physical and spirited contest at Mitford Road.

Tynedale again rang some changes due to enforced injury lay-offs and first team call-ups. Whilst this is the nature of second team rugby, the ever-changing playing combinations have made it difficult to build on-field understanding and shape to both attack and defensive structure.

Nevertheless, the Raiders travelled in good spirits, and the match was played out in excellent conditions with the recent wintry breeze having dried the ground out to allow both sides to play open rugby.

The Raiders played into the breeze in the first half and made a bright start with early possession and an initial visit deep into Morpeth territory, but the attack came to nothing as the side lost patience and kicked possession away.

Morpeth then worked their way upfield and won a penalty which their kicker duly knocked over for an early 3-0 lead.

The score remained this way for the next 20 minutes with neither side able to build a period of real pressure and both teams struggled to secure their own line-out ball.

On 25 minutes, Morpeth did manage to cross the Raiders’ line for an unconverted score. The visitor’s response was almost immediate when from a ruck on the edge of the Morpeth 22, the returning Micky Hall picked up and went straight through the middle of the ruck for a try converted by Cam Grant, for 8-7 with 28 minutes played.

The game was very much in the balance, but a momentary lapse of Tynedale concentration deep in their own half allowed the hosts to capitalise from the ensuing scrum to take a crucial 15-7 lead into the half.

A few stern words at half time initially appeared to lift the Raiders’ efforts, but much like the first half, the Tynedale outfit could not find the final phase to score.

By contrast, Morpeth made better use of the ball and their centre took advantage of a gap in the Raiders’ defensive line to race in from 40 metres to extend the lead to 20-7 with 25 minutes to play.

In the last 20 minutes, the Raiders played with far more desperation and intent and were rewarded with a score by prop Sam Stephenson on 65 minutes from a drive close to the line, ably converted by Grant for 20-14. But the increased tempo and urgency came too late and Morpeth’s defence help firm.

The performance was a marked improvement on the previous week but was still some way short of the energetic and free-flowing rugby that the Raiders’ pride themselves on.

Man of the match honours went to Callum Morrell who was excellent in attack and defence and showed great versatility moving from back-row into the backs in the second half.

On Saturday, the Raiders entertain the high-flying Wharfedale Forresters in the Northern Pilot League.