TERRIBLE weather could not prevent Malton & Norton and visitors Pocklington serving up a decent contest at The Gannock – but that was little consolation to the hosts as their 15-5 defeat left them perilously close to the drop zone in North One East.
Conditions were far from perfect for flowing rugby to begin with, owing to heavy overnight rain, and they only got worse as the game kicked off in the eye of a storm. Indeed, 15 minutes after the 2.15pm kick-off, the referee requested that the floodlights be switched on. Local derbies are always exciting, however, and this was no exception, with Pock winning it thanks to three tries in the run-up to half-time – all after Malton had opened the scoring.
That opener came when the home team finally got into the Pocklington 22-metre area after 10 minutes of midfield sparring. From a lineout on the right, the ball was passed into midfield to set up a ruck. Clean ball to fly-half Charlie Ramsay gave him the opportunity to ghost through a gap and hand on to full-back Ian Cooke, who crossed in the corner for the game’s first try. Ramsay’s conversion rebounded off a post.
As conditions worsened the game became a forward-dominated contest.
Honours were just about even until midway through the half when Pock made their breakthrough.
After exerting pressure through a series of drives, the forwards showed that their handling skills were in good order when the ball passed through several pairs of hands before prop Jack Helme crashed over in the corner to level the scores.
With half-time approaching, Malton were looking to go into the break with the scores level and the prospect of having the wind at their backs in the second half. Pocklington had no such thoughts and two minutes from half-time created the try of the game.
From inside their own half they mounted an attack. Crisp passing and sure hands had the Malton defence all at sea and, when the extra man was created, hooker Dave Birch crossed in the corner.
From the restart, Malton conceded a penalty and Pock promptly kicked to touch close to the Malton line.
A clean catch and drive made ground and, when the ball was released, a blind-side break created room for flanker Ben Stephenson to cross in the same place as his two team-mates.
Again the conversion was unsuccessful and the half-time score was 15-5 in Pock’s favour.
The weather brightened up for the second half but underfoot conditions were no better and both sides found increasing difficulty in holding onto possession.
The Malton pack, with Paul Dobson leading from the front, had some good moments with their pick-and-drive game but Pocklington were equal to everything they could throw at them in an attempt to get back into contention.
Pock did have the opportunity to widen the gap when some sloppy Malton play allowed wing Billy Hardy to hack on and enter a foot race with Malton’s Cooke. A slight nudge on the winger was enough to bring him to ground and gain a penalty, with Cooke sin-binned.
However, Malton weathered that particular storm and the game closed with Pock consolidating their fourth position in the league and Malton still in relegation danger.
Malt take a break on Saturday before travelling to Halifax to take on Old Crossleyans the week after.
Malton: I Cooke, N Daley, P Fifita, K Leiataua, P Angus, C Ramsay, T Boyle, P Dobson, N Salisbury, E Gwilliam, D Foster, M Bradshaw, A Coe, S Triffitt, S Emms. Subs (all used): A Turnbull, J Lumley, J Bulmer.