WEST HARTLEPOOL 43pts MALTON & NORTON 31pts
Try bonus point but little else
Match Report by Bill Laidler
WEST HARTLEPOOL 43pts MALTON & NORTON 31pts
After an early morning pitch inspection a still severely depleted Malton travelled to strugglers West Hartlepool with high hope of ending their recent run of disappointing results. The omens looked good in the opening minutes with Malton showing good ball control and composure as the pack drove forward to within sight of the home line. The ball was then released to the backs and a good break from centre Tom Foan put fly half James Bulmer into space to cross for the opening try. Bulmer converted and Malton hopes were high after just three minutes. Those hopes were dashed almost immediately. Malton had the first line out of the game on their own 22 metre line. Safety first should have been the priority but instead a speculative throw to the back of the line missed its target by some distance and fell straight into the arms of the West No.8 who had no difficulty in bursting through Maltons poor tackling to score the levelling try.
It soon became apparent that West possessed far more pace on the flanks than Malton and attempted to use this asset to its full. Only ten minutes into the game and after some sustained pressure West increased the lead to 12 – 7 when some weak tackling allowed the right wing to shrug off a couple of tackles and score in the corner. The next twenty minutes produced something of an arm wrestle in mid field with neither side able to make much headway. The deadlock was finally broken when a Malton penalty failed to make touch. The return kick was badly dealt with and a hack ahead by West was eagerly followed up and the third try resulted to bring a half time score of 19 – 7.
Malton needed to raise their game and cut out the basic errors if they were to get anything from the game in the second half. West were not going to let this happen without a fight. From a line out deep in their own half they quickly got the ball to their backs and a break in centre field, aided by some poor tackling, put the centre and two others into open space. The sprint for the line was a foregone conclusion and the score line increased to 7 – 26. Worse was to follow five minutes later when, again, some poor defence at the fringe of a ruck allowed West to pick up and stroll in to make the score 7 – 31.
This score seemed to spur Malton into life. The forwards returned to the sort of play they had displayed in the first few minutes of the game and the dividends soon came. Good ground was made from a series of good drives culminating in centre Nick Rangiuira driving forward before passing on to second row Ali Fothergill who crossed for the try. Bulmer added the extras and the fight back had begun. At the mid point of the half, and with West temporarily reduced to 14 men, Malton struck again. Foan took a tap penalty twenty metres out and close to touch and handed on to the pack. The drive and ball control was too much for the home sides to handle and substitute prop Adam Turnbull was credited with the touch down in the corner. Bulmers conversion from the touch line sailed between the posts for a score of 31 – 21 and game on once more. Four minutes later they were at it again and it was the pack again to the fore. They were now dominating the forward exchanges and making ground with each drive. From the final drive prop forward Nick Salisbury took the ball at speed to charge over for Maltons fourth and bonus point try. Bulmers conversion brought the score to 31 – 28 to West and and a reversal of fortune was on the cards. Those hopes evaporated onn the half hour when Malton were penalised for not rolling away from a tackle. West kicked to the corner and a clean catch and drive produced the initial drive before setting the speedy back line into action and scoring in the opposite corner. Bulmer narrowed the scoreline to 31 – 36 with a struck penalty with five minutes left to play to put Malton into losing bonus point territory. West struck back in the final minute and again looked certain to score in the corner when a Malton player went for the interception and knocked on in the process. A penalty try resulted and West finally ran out 43 – 31 deserved winners.
There is now a break until the 6th January and Malton will hope that most of the currently injured can recover in time to start the New Year with renewed zest and climb away from the threat of falling into the relegation trap.
Malton: B.Tenge, C.Page, T.Foan, N.Rangiuira, V.Dyantjies, J.Bulmer, P.Angus, N.Salisbury, L.Welch, R.Featherstone, A.Fothergill, A.Mitchell, C.Corner, T.Lowry, W.Hughesw. Subs; (all used) A.Turnbull, C.Read, J.Vasconcelos.