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Malton & Norton unlucky to take only a bonus point
2:52pm Wednesday 27th February 2013 in Sport
DUMPED TO THE DECK: A trio of Malton & Norton tacklers combine to put down a Cleckheaton opponent, from left, Ian Cooke, Chuck Ramsay and Ryan Lonsdale
Had they had the rub of the green, Malton could well have achieved much more against a good away side who have defeated the league’s two frontrunners in recent weeks to put themselves into contention for a top-two place.
Malton now travel to Newcastle this Saturday to play Northern and, says spokesman Bill Laidler, they will take heart from this display. They were undone, though, by Cleckheaton’s well-drilled catch and drives from lineouts which garnered two crucial tries.
Said Laidler: “The catch-and-drive tactic is hard to stop by legal methods and, although not pretty to watch, it is highly effective and brings results and it is results which matter at the end of a game. Cleckheaton have it off to a fine art.”
He added: “Sean Emms and Jamie Rounthwaite again put in wholehearted displays in the second row with Sam Triffitt not far behind. Tom Newitt, Ian Cooke and Ryan Lonsdale, although well shackled in this game, were a constant thorn in Cleckheaton’s side and on another day may well have had more to show for their efforts.”
Malton received the kick-off and quickly made progress into the visitors’ half through a number of controlled rucks and mauls. Cleckheaton eventually succumbed after two minutes and, when they were caught offside in the backs, Ali Heard converted the penalty to edge Malton ahead. Cleckheaton are a well-drilled side and stormed back into the game. Malton conceded a penalty on half-way and a well-judged kick to the corner gave Cleck the opportunity to exhibit their successful rolling maul technique. A clean catch and unstoppable drive gave number eight Richard Piper the touchdown to put Cleck in front.
Despite the heavy, glue-like conditions, Malton persevered with their open brand of rugby and looked to probe the Cleck defence with some strong runs from centres Cooke and Lonsdale.
There was a never-say-die attitude running through the home side and, when Cleckheaton inexplicably lost control of the ball at a ruck on half-way, second-row Emms seized the opportunity to snap up the loose ball and set off on a 50-metre sprint to the line for a deserved try. Heard’s conversion nudged Malt back into the lead and a renewed sense of belief could be felt around The Gannock. Both sides were making light of the conditions and the game flowed from end to end. The last five minutes of the half produced two tries. Cleckheaton drove Malton back at a scrum and, with the home defence in disarray, second-row Ryan Piercy picked up and burst through a gap to score a converted try.
Regaining the ball from the restart, Malton powered forward. The pack, with Simon Thompson, Emms and Rounthwaite to the fore, inched forward with the final burst taking stand-in skipper Triffitt over for Malton’s second try. Heard’s conversion gave Malton 17-12 interval lead.
Confidence was high in the home ranks to begin the second half, but this confidence cost them dearly after eight minutes. Trying to run the ball out of defence, when a boot upfield might have been a better option, they were caught and dispossessed. Cleck then applied the pressure on the Malton line and full-back Ross Hayden was on hand for a try in the corner to level the scores. Once again the game ebbed and flowed with Cleck having the advantage in the forward exchanges but Malton showing more invention and power in the threequarters. The result was long periods of stalemate in centre-field although no quarter was being given as both sides attempted to spring the lock.
With 10 minutes remaining, it was Cleck made the breakthrough, and again it was the catch and drive which did the trick.
A lineout five metres out was cleanly taken and again Piper was the man awarded the touchdown. The excellent conversion put Cleck 24-17 ahead, a scoreline which remained unaltered until the end.
Malton & Norton: T Newitt, K Leiataua, I Cooke, R Lonsdale, A Heard, C Ramsay, T Boyle, A Turnbull, S Thompson, R Featherstone (N Salisbury), S Emms (D Foster), J Rounthwaite, G Ramsay, H Barnes (G Harrison), S Triffitt.