MALTON & NORTON RUFC made light work of wet and heavy conditions as they swept back into Yorkshire One action with a crushing 37-3 victory over Old Crossleyans.
The Gannock pitch had to pass an early morning inspection and, with the decision to play correct, Malton were able to field all of their previously injured players following the Christmas break - with the exception of influential number eight Josh Heggie.
They were in charge of most facets of play and produced a five try performance, closing the gap on leaders Bradford & Bingley, whose game at Heath was postponed, to five points.
Club spokesman Bill Laidler said: "Conditions were not the best all afternoon but both sides provided some good rugby in the trying conditions. However, it was the Malton pack who must take the plaudits.
"Their control of the ball was first class throughout and, with substitutes of the calibre of Ed Gwilliam and David Cooke to call on when their younger team members are in need of a rest, they lose little or nothing when the changes are made.
"Ben Boothman was Malton's stand out player but he was closely followed by the remainder of his pack of forwards who grow in stature as a unit as the weeks pass."
Malton were on the board after five minutes. A series of drives took them within 20 metres of the line and, when the ball was released to the backs, a defence splitting pass from centre Vus Dyantjies opened up the visitors defence and wing Ben Woodhouse was on hand to take the scoring pass. Zweli Sodlada converted.
The visitors were competitive but Malton's defence stayed tight and, on the quarter hour mark, they extended their lead. A visiting player failed to release the tackle and Sodladla added the penalty.
That score was soon cancelled out when the visitors converted a penalty for a similar offence but, 30 minutes in, over exuberance in the Crossleyans ranks yielded another penalty for Malton which Sodladla again converted.
With the pack causing massive problems for Crossleyans, Sodladla kicked an injury time penalty to the corner. A good catch at the back of the line-out was driven on and Ali Coe, deputising for Heggie at the back of the pack, was awarded the try as Malton led 18-3 at the break.
The home side did not disappoint in the second period.
Old Crossleyans stemmed the tide for almost 20 minutes until Malton benefitted from a bizarre set of circumstances.
From a ruck 30 metres out, Malton passed the ball out to the backs. A hard and long pass aimed at wing Ian Cooke struck Dyantjies on the head and bounced forward towards the line.
The ever alert Cooke, realising the ball had not been knocked on, followed up to get the touch down in the corner. Sodladla converted and the score seemed to knock the spirit out of the visitors.
Five minutes later, the try bonus point was in the bag and it was the work of the forwards that again formed the platform.
Excellent mauling, with prop forward Boothman prominent, took Malton deep into scoring territory. A good break by fly-half Nick Daley was handed on to skipper Sam Trifitt, who went over for the fourth try.
Crossleyans tried desperately to stem the flow but the fitness of the home side was apparent in the closing stages as they turned the screw. The final score came from a period of pressure on the line.
Malton were awarded a scrum five metres out and were driving forward when the motion was halted. The referee awarded Malton a penalty.
Opting for another scrum, Malton shunted the visitors back and, when one of their number deliberately collapsed the moving mass, the referee had no hesitation in going between the posts and awarding a penalty try for Sodladla to convert.