A RELEGATION battle lies ahead for Malton & Norton RUFC after a 35-26 defeat at Old Crossleyans saw them dragged to within a point of the North One East drop zone.

The Ryedale side’s reverse on Saturday was compounded by a 20-18 victory for second from bottom Middlesbrough at Northern.

Crossleyans played with the wind in the first half and put Malton under pressure from the start, claiming an early converted try.

A lineout catch and drive try extended the home side’s lead and they made it 21-0 from a speculative kick from half way on 20 minutes.

As the half came to a close, Crossleyans were awarded a penalty try and there was still time for Malton to mount an attack which saw number eight Ali Coe break from a scrum before handing on to centre Ben Woodhouse, who crashed over for a try.

After the break, Malt took advantage of the wind as fly-half Charlie Ramsay fed Woodhouse and he crossed for his second try. Ramsay converted. Crossleyans hit back with their fifth try, but Malton battled on.

With the game heading into injury time, substitute Nick Salisbury scored Malton’s third try and Ramsay converted.

A penalty was then placed into a corner and, from a good Duncan Foster take, the drive was set up for skipper Sam Triffitt to touch down for a bonus point try. Ramsay goaled.

Malton are now fourth from bottom, one point ahead of Morpeth, who occupy the third relegation spot but have a game in hand.

Meanwhile, Pocklington made a poor start and never recovered as Rochdale overpowered them 45-10.

Rochdale were given regular boosts from Pock errors, including their first try after three minutes from a wayward pass.

Pock battled back with a lineout catch and drive try for flanker Jack Holbrough but, despite another Pock score, Rochdale led 19-10 on the half hour after two back tries.

The game went away from Pocklington early in the second period as they slipped off a tackle in midfield for Rochdale to stroll under the posts.

Twice in quick succession Pock let kicks land and both times the ball bounced into Rochdale hands for converted tries. Rochdale rubbed it in with a seventh try.