MALTON & Norton slipped into the North One East relegation zone after a 28-13 defeat at Morpeth - their fifth defeat in a row.

The Ryedale side head into this Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough at the Gannock (kick off 3pm) third from bottom, two points adrift of Morpeth.

Middlesbrough are second from bottom, five points behind Malt, but like Morpeth they have a game in hand on the Ryedale side.

Club spokesman Bill Laidler said: “We are now in serious danger of losing our North One East status and face an uphill fight against relegation after a disappointing result against Morpeth.

“With five games remaining, it is still possible for us to scramble to safety and the stops will be pulled out to achieve a safe position.”

Malt started well against Morpeth and some good driving and ball retention had Morpeth back-pedalling.

On two occasions an overlap was created which should have produced a score.

However, Malton’s lack of midfield guile and reliance on a crash ball tactic meant those opportunities were spurned.

They did get the first score on the board when Morpeth transgressed at a ruck and James Bulmer sent the ball through the posts.

Morpeth came more into the game, but Malt’s defence was sound until midway through the half, when a scrum five metres out produced a pick and drive try for the hosts.

Both sides were playing with great intensity and Bulmer was unlucky to see a penalty kick rebound from a post to safety, before he added his second kick with half-time in sight.

From the restart Morpeth responded with a three-pointer when Malton were penalised to lead 10-6 at half-time.

Malton began the second period on the offensive and took the lead after five minutes.

Jamie Rounthwaite won clean ball from a lineout to feed prop Ed Gwilliam, who burst through the home defence before handing on to flanker Ali Coe and he crashed over. Bulmer converted.

The lead was short-lived as Malt were penalised for an offside and the scores were levelled.

Play was then confined to centre field for a long period before a loose ball was seized upon by Morpeth.

After bursting through two weak tackles, their left wing touched down in the corner.

A couple of minutes later, a penalty gave Morpeth a healthy cushion, meaning Malton had to score twice to take anything from the game.

They tried valiantly to get back on terms, but Morpeth continually forced them back with some intelligent kicking to the corners.

With the game deep into added time, a series of drives near the Malton line produced the final score of the game for the home side.