MALTON & NORTON 24pts CLECKHEATON 41pts
BONUS POINT BUT INJURY JINX HITS AGAIN
Match report by Bill Laidler
MALTON & NORTON 24pts CLECKHEATON 41pts
A try bonus point was the only reward Malton could salvage from a game in which the injury hoodoo again struck with a vengeance, losing skipper Sam Triffitt after five minutes with a shoulder injury and fullback Zweli Sodladla midway through the second half with concussion. Both now face lengthy periods on the sidelines.
Then first ten minutes of the game were an indicator of what was to come, with Malton trying to keep the ball in hand while Cleckheaton relied on the cultured boot of their fly half to keep them in the attacking zone. Honours were just about even until Malton infringed at a ruck and that boot sent the ball between the posts for the lead. Six minutes later that boot again did the damage. After several phases of pick and drive a neat kick behind the Malton defence was perfectly weighted for the right wing to pick up in full stride to cross for the first try and an 8 – 0 lead.
Malton at this stage were competing well but the visitors defence was sound and long relieving kicks kept the pressure on the home defence. When Malton were penalised for handling in a ruck an accurate kick to the corner produced the second try with an unstoppable catch and drive. Shortly after this score Cleckheaton lost a man to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle but before Malton could capitalise on the extra man another kick through the home defence was hacked on for an third try. This time the conversion was successful and Malton had a mountain to climb. That fight back did come on the half hour. From a set scrum just inside the visitors half a well rehearsed move in the Malton backs produced the try. Good handling between fly half Luke Raduva and centre Nick Rangiuira got the ball to Sodladla who broke through the defence for his sides first try and a half time score of 20 – 5 in Cleckheatons favour.
If Malton could eradicate some of the needless handling errors they were still capable of getting something from the game. Those hopes were raised from the restart with a number of excellent forward drives taking them deep into the visitors half. Eventually the backs received the ball and Rangiuira was held just short of the line but No.8 forward Ali Coe was on hand to take the pass and cross to narrow the deficit. However, the visitors struck back immediately when they took full advantage of some poor Malton defending to break straight through the middle to extend the lead to 27 – 12. For the next ten minutes of the game the boot of flyhalf Swetman caused Malton all sorts of problems. From a line out just into the Malton half a perfect kick across field found the right wing in acres of space to cross and bring the score to 12 – 34. Five minutes later the visitors backs showed their paces when good ball from a line out was spread wide and a try resulted in the corner to bring the score to 12 – 41 and Malton facing total humiliation.
As in previous weeks Malton then rose to the occasion. When a second Cleckheaton player was shown a yellow card for another dangerous tackle Malton took full advantage. A tap penalty produced a series of drives and when the ball was finally released to the backs good play between fly half Luke Raduva and wing Tom Foan gave Foan the opportunity to romp over. James Bulmers conversion narrowed the gap to 19 – 41. For the next fifteen minutes it was all Malton as they battled to gain parity. However, it was not until the final minute that they finally struck. Another good series of drives had the visitors scrambling and when the ball got into the hands of Ali Fothergill there was only one thing on his mind. His persistence and strength got him to the line for Maltons bonus point try and a final respectable score of 24 – 41.
Injuries are hitting Malton hard at present and with a difficult trip to Alnwick on Saturday they will have to dig deep if they are to gain anything from the trip.
Malton: Z.Sodladla, T.Foan, V.Dyantjies, N.Rangiuira, P.Angus, L.Raduva, J.Bulmer, R.Featherstone, L.Welch, N.Salisbury, A.Fothergill, W.Hughes, C.Corner, S.Triffitt, A.Coe. Subs: (all used) A.Mitchell, J.Bulmer, S.Emms.