THERE was late heartbreak for Malton & Norton Colts in the Under 18 Yorkshire Cup final as they fell to a gutting 38-36 defeat to West Leeds.

With incessant overnight and morning rain, the 4G pitch at hosts Doncaster Knights was used for the opening two of the three scheduled cup finals, but by 3pm, the main pitch was deemed playable.

Malton made a strong start as they kicked off the opening 35 minutes of action in South Yorkshire, with a strong follow-up tackle followed by a penalty award kicked to the corner. 

The resulting line-out ball was swiftly moved for winger Rufus Pegrum to score wide out in the second minute to add the first five points to the board.

However, three minutes later, a penalty for a late Malton shoulder barge saw West Leeds take a tap move, and transferring the ball swiftly to the outside centre, he beat a man and sent his winger in to score.

A successful conversion gave the West Yorkshire outfit a two-point lead. 

The flurry of points continued from the restart as Malton pressured Leeds’ 20 metre area, and after captain Oliver Owuor had driven them forward, a quick transfer of the ball set up William Collier who danced over the whitewash to put them back in front.

Leeds again replied in the 13th minute as Malton failed to halt their midfield, with their speedy winger dispatched over the line for his second to tie the scores.

Three minutes later, with the Malton eight in dominant mode, a quality pass was provided for Jack Jones to show and ghost past three clutching sets of hands to score, in the process knocking the wind out of himself and taking several minutes on the touch line. 

Reserve kicker Jack Redshaw stepped up to add the extras.

Malton had enjoyed at least 70 per cent territory and 65 per cent possession during the opening half, with their forwards duly stifling the opposition pack for the remainder.

A minute before the interval, Leeds lost their number eight  to a yellow card for collapsing a maul, and with Malton opting for a scrum, influential skipper Owuor was fed the ball to cross the line on the stroke of half-time, giving them a 24-12 lead at the break.

Malton opened the second half initially on the back foot as Leeds emerged from their half-time talk well, led by their impressive hooker who fronted every move making good yardage from his frequent carries.

But it was the Ryedale side who extended their lead in the 40th minute after concerted efforts in the opposition red zone, with winger Collier going over for his second of the afternoon before Jones slotted over the conversion.

However, rugby is both a mental and physical game and complacency and lack of awareness always lurks in the background.

Leeds rallied, displaying 25 minutes of disciplined and hard rugby, fronting up with their forwards.

And in the 45th minute their number two drove hard and stretched over the line to pull seven points back.

In the 52nd minute, Leeds received their second yellow of the game and Malton, having absorbed an enormous amount of pressure, cleared to the opposition 10-metre line. 

However, following a sublime offload in midfield, the West Yorkshire side burst downfield to resume where they had left off.

Despite being a man down and being faced with some strong tackling, they crossed the whitewash close to the sticks in the 55th minute to take the score to 31-26.

Malton’s discipline was soon found wanting, and coughing up penalties, they put themselves on the back foot.

It wasn’t long before Leeds took full advantage, and led by their power runners, scored another five points to level the scores with just five minutes left to play.
With their supporters in full voice, Malton looked to have secured victory three minutes later.

Following concerted pressure by their reinvigorated pack, Owour dived for the line, clattering the corner flag as he touched down, with the referee having no hesitation in awarding the five-point try.

Slowing down the pace of the game was Malton’s priority in the dying seconds, but Leeds had other ideas and on the stroke of full-time scored near the uprights, a successful conversion handing them the narrowest of victories.

Despite the result, Malton should hold their heads high for putting on a brave display and accepting defeat in a manner befitting the ethos of the club.