Carlisle Rugby Club came through a tough-looking assignment at a higher level when they won 36-12 at Morpeth.

It was a good effort in a clash between last season’s winners of North One West and North One East to open the new season.

Carlisle started well enough, but it was Morpeth who scored first when they moved the ball at pace across the backline, and full-back Andrew Telford hit a gap in the visitors defence to go under the posts to earn a 7-0 lead.

Matt Shields’ Carlisle side continued to have most of the possession and territory, yet seemed unable to break through a resolute home defence.

Morpeth always looked dangerous with ball in hand, and both sides seemed keen to run the ball wide and at pace, which made for an entertaining game.

Then, just shy of the half-hour mark, some hard running by the two second rows, Rory Parish and James Brocket, gave Carlisle field position at a breakdown on the Morpeth 10m.

The ball was fed wide left to Joe Anderson, and the rampaging prop took the ball at full pace, smashing his way through the last defenders to go over for Carlisle’s first try, converted by James Telford.

Morpeth pushed Carlisle hard but, when centre Dan Holmes intercepted a ball and belted up the park, he was just stopped on the Morpeth 22 by his opposite number. Carlisle were quicker up in support and in numbers, and with the ball swung right across the park, winger Yousef Abdul-Sahib was able to dodge the last defender for Carlisle’s second try to give them a 12-7 lead, going into half-time.

The second half saw the home side’s discipline begin to fail and the resulting penalties gave the visitors significant territorial advantage.

Carlisle’s third try came from a penalty, allowing Chris Auld the chance to give Carlisle a five-metre line-out.

The pack duly accepted the challenge, and with Shields and Angus Fulton combining to drive the Morpeth defence backwards, Telford fed Holmes a ball from which he hit a great line to go through the Morpeth defence and over the whitewash on 53 minutes.

Carlisle were beginning to dominate possession, and full-back Ben Purdham rounded the last defender for the fourth and bonus-point try on 65 minutes.

Just a few minutes later, from a line-out catch and drive five metres out, Tom Graham dived over at the back of the maul for Carlisle’s fifth try.

Telford sealed the game for Carlisle as they attacked from deep, with captain Henry Wainwright making some hard yards up the left wing, before Telford ran in Carlisle’s sixth and final try.

Near the end, Morpeth finally found a way through Carlisle’s defence to go over in the right corner, but it was too late.