MALTON & Norton could only muster 22 players in total for two teams on Saturday – with just about enough turning out for the third team to get a game on against Scarborough 3rds.
Only six players made themselves available for the second team’s trip to Scarborough meaning that game was called off, even though the host team were ready to offer spare men to boost numbers – and all this after Malton managed to get three sides out only one week earlier.
The first team had no match in North One East but used this as a rest week to overcome niggles and injuries. As for the other two squads, third-team captain Marcus Lyon made a call to arms.
He said: “Without the juniors coming through the thirds may well not have had one game let alone four this year.
“Scott Kneeshaw should be applauded for getting some players to Scarborough as the task of getting the seconds out was passed from pillar to post. As a club it is the players who should stand up and be counted – we must know our teams by Thursday evening at the very latest as to cry off on a Friday night or a Saturday morning is something all clubs complain about.
“We know most clubs are suffering from player shortages and hopefully the events of this Saturday will be seen as a wake-up call for all players.”
The third team, having scrambled a side together, lost 31-19 to Scarborough.
They nevertheless performed admirably in a strong wind against well-drilled visitors.
Boro opened the scoring and added a second try following a quick penalty after a high tackle.
Malt started to grind uphill with some tight forward drives, with props Tony Watson and Ben Owston keen to take the ball on and hooker Pete Hopkins ever-present in support.
Hopkins also struck well in the scrums to maintain a steady flow of ball to the backs, who were marshalled well by Matthew Midgley at fly-half.
New centre pairing Dave Cash and Mike McCourt showed power and pace when needed and kept busy against lively opponents.
Despite problems with the wind, the wingers were given ample opportunities with Sean Angus and Jay Brown always in the thick of it – but always kept in check by strong defending.
The swirling wind helped to give Malton their first score.
From a ruck, Lyon, at scrum-half, kicked high and the wind held the ball up in front of the visitors’ full-back allowing Midgley to pick and pop over the whitewash.
With Malt’s back row – Alex Machen, Joe Tenge and James Browne, who had his best game to date – all impressive throughout, Malt were soon back in Scarborough’s 22, driving on well with Browne and Tenge at the fore.
The ball was popped up to Dave Woodhouse, who had taken over from Owston in the front row, and he drove over, Brown converting.
Malt made a few changes at half-time as players returned from the aborted trip to Scarborough, with Jon Newsome and Sean Angus, who took over from Lyon at scrum-half, looking sharp.
Scarborough, though, bagged a few more scores but Malton camped in the visitors’ 22 for much of the last quarter.
Drive after drive brought penalty after penalty and, from one, quickly taken by Angus, Browne beat three men to score in the corner.
Good moves in back play by Newsome, Neil Gilbertson, Tenge, Angus and Midgley released McCourt who skipped through the first line of defence only to be kept at bay by last-ditch scrambling defence.