INJURY-HIT York Acorn returned from unbeaten table-toppers Widnes St Marie's with their pride in tact despite a 24-4 defeat.

Acorn were already without five sidelined players for the tough Arriva Trains Conference division two trip when their problems were compounded by an ankle injury to James Morrow in the pre-match warm-up.

The home side went ahead with an unconverted try wide on the left after five minutes and two penalties soon saw Acorn punished for ill-discipline and trailing 8-0.

But the visitors improved with prop forward Lee McTigue enjoying a rugged, no-nonsense display, allied to the power of Paul Payne and the straight running of Ben Hodgson and Dean Crump.

Kev Brundrett then kicked two penalties to reduce the deficit to 8-4 at the break.

The game's turning point came on 50 minutes when an obvious forward pass went unchecked and Widnes went on to grab an unconverted try.

A converted score was added moments later when Acorn were the victims of a wicked bounce.

In the backs, centre Michael Embleton continued to look dangerous for the York team but another converted try secured victory for Widnes despite a strong suspicion of foul play in the build-up.

Embleton then allowed his frustrations to get the better of him by infringing and was sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul.

Acorn face high-flying Rochdale Mayfield next weekend.

A sixth straight big win for Acorn 'A' strengthened their position at the top of the Pennine League division five table.

Tries by Rich Scott (3) Paul Sawyer (2), Chris Caulfield (2), John Tattersfield (2), Kyle Palmer and Paul Dodsworth helped Acorn to a 66-0 victory over Keighley Town 'A', with Palmer (8) and Andy Henson kicking goals.

Heworth were without a Conference game on Saturday.

The Yorkshire League, featuring York outfits New Earswick All Blacks, of the senior division, and Heworth 'A', of division three, also had a weekend off due to the Tetley's Super League Grand Final on Saturday evening.

Two of York and District's Pennine League division five sides, Selby Warriors and York Groves, also did not have games on Saturday.

Both of those sides have lost only one match apiece and they have games in hand on runaway leaders Acorn 'A'.

Updated: 11:17 Monday, October 20, 2003