MALTON are already turning attentions to next season - and hopefully an immediate return to North One East.
They ended their 2013/14 campaign on Saturday with a 63-21 defeat at Cleckheaton in what was effectively a dead rubber - with Malt already relegated and Cleckheaton already promoted to National Three North.
Only pride was to play for and, although the Gannock outfit played their part in an entertaining game, they still came out on the wrong side of a hefty scoreline which saw them finish the season bottom of the pile.
However, with an eye on next term, they packed the midfield with youth to give some of their fledgling first-teamers experience.
Malton spokesman Bill Laidler said: “We must now look to next season.
“Many of the current side are in their teens or early 20s and will have matured greatly during this campaign. That will stand them in good stead for future but there is work to be done.”
Both sides produced some good rugby on an almost perfect day.
The early exchanges were played mainly in the Malton half but with little threat to the try-line as the defence held firm.
With 10 minutes gone, Malton turned over possession in their own 22-metre area and used quick hands to get the ball to centre Kenton Lieataua.
Just inside his own 22, he opened the gas tap and sped through a gap in the home defence. With Paul Angus steaming up beside him he easily beat the last man of the Cleckheaton defence to race the length of the pitch for the opening try.
Ian Cooke converted and Malton looked for more. Cleckheaton, though, had other ideas.
Malton’s pick-and-drive game was causing one or two problems for the home defence but far too often a simple error ruined the previous hard work and possession was handed back to the hosts.
When Malton - not for the first time this season - strangely threw to the back of a lineout on their own line, the ball was lost and Cleck had a simple run-in for the equalising try.
From that point on, despite some good rugby from Malton, the home side were always in control.
Three further tries followed without reply, and in two of those tries possession was handed to Cleck by Malton.
The final score of the half came when Cleckheaton cleared from their own line. The ball failed to find touch and, when two Malton players stood and waited for the other to collect and counter, an alert Cleck winger seized the ball and ran in for his side’s fifth try.
The second half almost mirrored the first.
The home side were in control for long periods and extended the lead before Leiataua pounced on the ball at the back of a ruck and ran through the mass of bodies to get his second try of the game.
The game closed with Malton running a tap penalty close to the home line. The maul drove forward and substitute John Lumley was credited with the try to round off the game and season.
All 12 tries scored were converted. Cleckheaton full-back Ross Hayden booted nine and Cooke knocked over three for Malt.
Malton: I Cooke, P Angus, K Leiataua, C Ramsay, B Woodhouse, J Bulmer, C Birkett, P Dobson, N Salisbury, E Gwilliam, J Rounthwaite, S Emms, A Coe, T Caygill, S Triffitt. Subs(all used): A Turnbull, J Lumley, T Clark.