Alarming defensive frailties once again cost York Wasps dear as they slumped to yet another heavy defeat, taking their points conceded record to an astounding 180 in the last four games.

It is a worrying statistic for coach Garry Atkins who is fast running out of options with the players currently available.

The attacking record offers little consolation either, with just 40 points scored over those same four games.

Of equal concern yesterday was that York were well in contention at half-time when they trailed just 12-6. They had even been in front for the first 20 minutes after full back Darren Callaghan had run on to Alan Pallister's short pass to score the opening try which Kevin Gray converted.

But hopes of leaving Cumbria with anything other than sunstroke were dashed after a spectacular second half collapse of England cricket team proportions.

Once the game was out of reach the Wasps visibly threw in the towel to allow Whitehaven to run in three tries in the last 10 minutes.

That took the score from a respectable 28-12 to another humiliating hammering but is was no more than York, or Whitehaven, deserved.

The Wasps lacked ideas in attack with stand-off Mark Cain uncharacteristically quiet.

And while last week Oldham exploited weaknesses down the flanks, this time the defensive problems were evident right across the park.

But in those early stages there was no hint of the onslaught to come as the Wasps appeared to have tightened up in the tackle.

The Warriors struggled to find any gaps but finally found a way through after 20 minutes with a flowing move which started 40 metres out and ended with hooker Aaron Lester rounding Callaghan to touch down.

That try was down more to Whitehaven's ability to keep the ball alive than poor York tackling and again it was good attacking play which led to their second.

Man of the match Howard Hill broke down the left and as the defence came across to cover he threw the ball back inside and scrum half Lee Kiddie supported well to go over.

Kevin Hetherington converted both tries to give Whitehaven a 12-6 half-time lead, at which stage York still fancied their chances.

But a mistake by Callaghan a minute into the second half gifted the home side another try which opened the floodgates.

Callaghan dropped a bomb 20 metres from his own line and the ball was picked up by winger Craig Walsh who strolled through the static defence for a converted try.

Walsh was having a good day and soon crossed again. A loose ball was picked up by Lester and, although he was caught by Matt Woodcock, launched a speculative pass out to the wing where Walsh was in the right place to score.

Then came probably the only bright spot for York - the introduction of forward Mick Ramsden after nearly a year out with a knee injury.

He looked sharp for the half hour he was on the field and, along with fellow forwards Craig Forsyth, Andy Hill and Paul Darley, emerged with credit. But he could do little to halt the rampaging Warriors.

York failed to stop the charge of big substitute Craig Chambers and he put David Seeds in for Whitehaven's fifth try before the Wasps enjoyed their best spell of the second half.

It resulted in a break by Chris Judge and, with just the full-back to beat, he chipped through and Gareth Dobson followed up to score.

Gray's kick made it 28-12 but then came an embarrassing last 10 minutes when the Warriors were allowed to score almost at will, and did so through Hill, 17-year-old substitute Gary Smith and Walsh who completed his hat-trick.

Walsh's effort was the most spectacular and came when Seeds collected the kick-off after Smith's try and ran almost the length of the pitch before being hauled down by stand-in full-back Woodcock. But the York defence was still scrambling back and on the next play Walsh had the easiest of jobs to touch down.

It was a long way to travel for such a lack lustre effort, but nothing compared to the last two months of the season which is going to seem like an eternity unless the Wasps can drastically improve.

Northern Ford Premiership Whitehaven 44, York Wasps 12

(Sunday, May 7 at Recreation Ground

YORK WASPS: Darren Callaghan 6, Kevin Gray 6, Andy Preston 6, Andrew Lambert 7, Matt Woodcock 7, Mark Cain 6, Gareth Dobson 6, Craig Forsyth 8, Alan Pallister 7, Steve Hill 7, Andy Hill 8, Spencer Hargrave 6, Paul Darley 8.

Subs: Craig Robinson (Pallister 28) 6, Chris Judge (S Hill 51) 7, Max Ryce (Callaghan 58) 6, Mick Ramsden (Forsyth 51) 7.

Re-subs: S Hill for Darley 69mins.

Tries: Callaghan (13mins), Dobson (70)

Conversions: Gray 2

Guildford Construction/ Evening Press Man of the Match

Andy Hill: Worked extremely hard in attack for the full 80 minutes and led the pack well. Just pipped Craig Forsyth and Paul Darley

WHITEHAVEN: Wesley Wilson, Neil Frazer, David Seeds, Kevin Hetherington, Craig Walsh, Robert Purdham, Lee Kiddie, Dean Vaughan, Aaron Lester, David Fatialofa, Howard Hill, Graham Morton, Gary Purdham.

Subs: Wayne Kitchin (Lester 48), Spencer Miller (Wilson 26), Gary Smith (Morton 58), Craig Chambers (Miller 40).

Re-subs: Miller for Vaughan 71.

Tries: Lester (17), Kiddie (31), Walsh (41, 48, 78), Seeds (56), Hill (73), Smith (75)

Conversions: Hetherington 6

Match statistics

Whitehaven York

Penalties 6 8

Scrums won 7 7

40/20 kicks 0 0

Half-time: 12 6

Referee: Colin Morris (Huddersfield)

Attendance: 592

Match rating: 6/10

York's next match: versus Swinton at the Huntington Stadium in the Northern Ford Premiership on Wednesday, May 10, kick-off 7.30pm