Malton & Norton downed by Rochdale

Gazette & Herald: . .

MALTON & Norton failed to recover from a poor start as they lost 22-10 at home to Rochdale in North One East.

The Gannock hosts were in danger of being blown away in the first 20 minutes on Saturday by a visiting outfit boasting power up front and an abundance of speed and skill in the backs. They lifted themselves to make a game of it, but the result left Malt five places off the foot of the table.

Spokesman Bill Laidler said: “We must get out of the habit of starting slowly and allowing the opposition an early lead if we are to steer clear of the relegation zone. “There were some good performances in this game, notably from Mark Bradshaw, George Harrison and Ali Coe in the pack and from Ian Cooke at full-back.

“Saturday’s encounter at Driffield now takes on much more importance, with both sides needing points to climb away from trouble.”

Rochdale crossed for a try in the first minute, breaking from a scrum and breaching some powderpuff tackling to go in at the corner.

Malton had hardly recovered when the visitors struck again, the hosts undone by a combination of weak tackling and speedy handling. On 15 minutes, some poor defence in Malton’s 22-metre area contributed to the third Rochdale score.

From a lineout they broke the first line of defence before spreading the ball wide to use the overlap and touch down on the opposite flank. Malt had a rare attack in which John Lumley was held up over the try-line but, just before the interval, they were saved further embarrassment when a last-ditch tackle prevented an interception try and Dale went into the break with a 15-0 lead.

Malton looked a different side after half-time as they began to take some control in the pack, which proved a match for their bigger opponents for most of the game. Ten minutes into the half, Malton got their reward. A forward surge seemed to have succeeded, but Bradshaw was adjudged to have been held up in the act of scoring. Undeterred, they won the resultant scrum and fed wing Leki Atiola, who crossed to make it 15-5.

Malton then showed their skills in a passage of play where the rugby was as good as anything seen this season. However, they still came up with errors.

With 15 minutes left, Malt failed to deal with a harmless kick ahead by Rochdale and a penalty try was awarded when the chasing player was taken down without the ball.

The conversion made it 22-5 and Malt had a lot of work to do if they were to take anything from the game.

The Rochdale pack were showing signs of running out of steam as the home eight tore into them and produced good ball retention skills. From one great forward drive and some excellent off-loading, Malton made ground into the visitors’ 22 before releasing centre Harry Shepherd, who wrong-footed the defence for a second try – but it proved too little, too late. Malton: I Cooke, L Atiola, H Shepherd, P Fifita, J Bulmer, T Boyle, R Featherstone, N Salisbury, E Gwilliam, D Foster, J Lumley, A Coe, G Harrison, M Bradshaw. Subs (all used): T Lowry, P Dobson, C Birkett.

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