WEST go clear

West are one point clear at the top of North One East after their first ever league victory at Malton and Norton - winning 34-20.

At times the Brinkburn side made hard work of their five-try win, but were never behind in the game despite being disrupted by injuries and work commitments.

You have to be happy with a bonus point win away from home

West lost versatile forward Chris Atkins in the warm-up when he damaged knee ligaments on the energy-sapping pitch at The Gannon.

Injuries to Zac Southern and Lee Maddison during the game meant the visitors were down to the bare bones in the second half, with stand-in prop Ross Wood forced to continue despite suffering due to not being able to train during the summer.

Head coach Iain Dixon said; “Ross was actually ill a few times during the game, but he continued because we had nobody else and that typified the spirit on the day.

“We didn’t play as well as we can at times although there were some very good individual performances from skipper Dan Boatman and man-of-the-match Andrew Rollins, and you have to be happy with a bonus point win away from home.

“We allowed Malton and Norton back into the game when we were 17-0 up, but every time they scored we just went back down the other end and got one of our own.” West began the game by conceding four penalties in the first minutes only to go ahead in the same way they did in the first game of the season.

Centre-turned-winger Will Hilditch was the man to finish after West forced a scrummage penalty in the home 22 and space was made out on the left.

Gavin Painter converted, and he was on target again when he opted to kick another penalty as the home side were once again penalised at the set-piece.

Zac Southern became another victim of the long grass when he pulled a hamstring with Paul Moss coming on and Luke Mallinson dropping to full-back.

Gavin Painter was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on. Malton mounted their first pressure of the half to run several penalties only for West to relieve the pressure when the home side were penalized themselves for holding on just metres from the posts.

Despite still being down to 14 men, West increased their lead to 15 points just after the restart when No 8 Sam Miller muscled his was over with Paul Moss narrowly wide with the conversion.

Malton finally got on the scoreboard with a penalty but that that was the cue for West’s best try of the afternoon.

Centre Liam Checksfield intercepted as Malton attacked from deep.

The ball was sped quickly left with Mallinson coming into the attack and almost reaching the line as he cut inside two defenders. West had players in support and the ball was quickly offloaded for Moss to go over.

Gavin Painter’s conversion took the score to 22-3 with the only question being how long would it take West to get their fourth try and earn that important bonus point.

However, Malton and Norton’s Foreign Legion had other ideas. Full-back Xolela Payi, from a South African township, had been keen to counter attack all day and with his countryman Vus Dyantjies set up the first of a hat-trick of tries for Australian winger Blake Spencer.

All three were scored in the left corner after the South Africans carved holes in the West defence with Spencer the beneficiary as the cover was spread wide.

Spencer’s first score came just before the hour mark with a superb touchline conversion from Payi, but there was a quick reply as West attacked from from the restart.

A series of pick and go’s had the home defence going backwards with Checksfield the player to benefit and give West their bonus point as gaps opened up.

Undaunted, Malton came back and a delightful scissors in midfield between Payi and Dyantjies created the space for Spencer to get his second.

Payi’s conversion was wide, which kept West two scores ahead, but that gap was shortened when Spencer completed his hat-trick with Payi’s third long-range attempt coming back off the crossbar.

However, any fears the considerable West support had of their side being overhauled were quickly put to bed.

West attacked up the left with Gavin Painter spotting a gap in the home defence and his finely-judged kick through was chased down by Checksfield who just managed to touch down before the ball went dead.

Painter’s conversion completed the West scoring but Malton almost got themselves two bonus points when Payi was sent racing clear just inside his own half. However, referee Richard Arthur brought play back for a forward pass.

Malton & Norton: Xolela Payi, Blake Spencer, Vus Dyantjies, Rob Armitage, Nick Bastow, Ian Cooke, Angus Whitney, Liam Vaughan, Simon Thompson, Ben Boothman, John Lumley, Sean Emms, Tom Lowry, Sam Triffitt, Ali Coe. Reps (all used): Nick Salisbury, Tim Casey, Harry Shepherd.

Tries: Spencer (3)

Cons: Pay (1) Pens: Payi (1)

Yellow: Triffitt.

West: Zac Southern, Luke Mallinson, Liam Checksfield, Peter Youll, Will Hilditch, Gain Painter, Ryan Painter, Adam Coates, Andrew Rollins, Ross Wood, John Bunter, Joe Rafferty, Lee Maddison, Dan Boatman (capt), Sam Miller.

Changes: Paul Moss, Jake Linighan.

Tries: Checksfield (2), Hilditch, Moss, Miller

Cons: G Painter (3) Pens G Painter (1)

Yellow: G Painter

Referee: Richard Arthur (Central Yorkshire)