MALTON & Norton made a flying start to 2013 with a 20-12 home victory over Middlesbrough in North One East.

The Gannock side were back to near full strength with the return of centre Ryan Lonsdale, winger Henry Newitt and forward George Harrison, and the home team’s speed and strength proved too much for Middlesbrough, with Malt clinching a win they needed to move away from the lower reaches of the table.

The opening exchanges saw both sides wrestling for supremacy, but Malton made the breakthrough after 12 minutes. From a set scrum in centre field, number eight Rich Webster broke and made good ground before setting up good ball for the threequarters. Lonsdale, partnering Kiwi debutant Pat Fifita in the centres, fought his way through some poor Middlesbrough defence from 30 metres out to score under the posts. Ali Heard converted. Middlesbrough responded well, forcing Malt to concede a penalty from the kick-off for entering the ruck from the wrong side. Fly-half Simon O’Farrell made no mistake to narrow the margin, punishing the hosts’ propensity to concede penalties at the breakdown.

Ten minutes later, Boro again profited from a similar offence and were within one point of the Malton total. The final 10 minutes of the first half saw a flurry of points.

Firstly, Boro conceded a penalty and Heard took advantage. From the restart, Malt again transgressed when a forward entered a ruck from the wrong angle and O’Farrell kicked the penalty.

In the final minute, a good passage of play took Malt to within sight of the line in the right corner. Fly-half Ian Cooke put in a fantastic cross-kick which landed in Lonsdale’s arms for him to saunter through three tackles to touch down wide out. Heard’s brilliant conversion gave Malt a 17-9 lead.

The second half was dour. Malton had an obvious advantage in the threequarters but far too often seemed content to battle it out up front against a much heavier pack. The result was something of a stalemate with both sides settling for a penalty each. The only noteworthy incident came when the referee was dazed when an attempted Middlesbrough clearance struck him in the face.

For Malton, the returning Harrison showed he has lost nothing and gained a lot after missing almost 18 months through injury. However, the stand-out player on the day was the ever-improving Sean Emms.

On Saturday, Malton entertain league leaders Beverley, who beat Pocklington 49-5 at the weekend.

Malton: A Heard (C Ramsay), T Newitt, P Fifita, R Lonsdale, H Newitt, I Cooke, T Boyle, P Dobson, N Salisbury, A Turnbull (R Featherstone), D Foster, S Emms, G Ramsay (G Harrison), S Triffitt, R Webster.