MALTON & Norton RUFC are through to the semi-finals of the Yorkshire Shield after a narrow 34-31 victory at Bradford Salem.

The higher-tier visitors at one stage led by 19 points but Salem - who sit a full 15 league places below North One East outfit Malt - battled back to make it a nervy finish.

Malton would only have had themselves to blame had they lost this encounter against a Salem side, who had played 50 minutes in total with 14 men on the park.

The Gannock outfit will travel to rivals Bridlington on February 22 in the semi-final. They return to league action this Saturday with a trip to Durham City.

Malton came to Shay Lane missing skipper Sam Triffitt, utility player Tom Hoggard and bruising winger Ali Fothergill.

With the reshuffle, Will Dunn and Ben Tenge were given starts, and on the wing 17-year-old Max Wainwright was given his baptism into senior rugby, putting in a solid shift.

Salem opened the scoring on 14 minutes with a five-pointer.

Malton’s possession in this opening period was spoilt by a catalogue of basic errors, coughing up ball at least three times and an unnecessarily high penalty count. On top of this there was only one visit to Salem’s half for all of 30 seconds. On the second visit, backchat wasted the opportunity and the quality boot of the Salem 10 punished the misdemeanour, penning Malton back in their own half.

It took Malton 25 minutes to settle and their third trip to Salem’s half forced the hosts into giving three penalties on the trot and a team yellow for their number 10. Several scrums later, the ball was fed to Will Bell, who jinked over for five points only on 30 minutes.

Six minutes later, a superb catch at the tail of the line-out by Tom Lowry set up position and on the second phase James Bulmer dummied once and trotted over for a seven-pointer.

With their tails up deep into extra time following a second Salem yellow, Lowry scored a converted try to put Malton in the driving seat at half time, 19-5 to the good.

However, as so often happens in cup games, Yorkshire One side Salem came out for the second half with nothing to lose. On 45 minutes Bell scored his second try to open the gap to 19 points - but Salem replied with two converted tries through their numbers five and 14 to close the gap to five points and make it all to play for.

In the meantime, they lost their playmaker at 10 to a second yellow for a trip offence.

The second of the tries came from a ludicrous attacking line-out call on Salem’s 20-metre line that sailed over the top and was gobbled up by Salem to work a try for their winger, who waltzed 45 metres down the touchline past several would-be tacklers.

Malton had some more attacking chances but simple mistakes like dropping the ball in the tackle wasted any opportunities.

The backs collected themselves on 70 minutes and set up Bell for his hat-trick to take Malt 29-19 up and in need of some game management.

Salem closed the gap to three points with five minutes left with a seven-pointer from their number six.

Two minutes later, Malton replied with five points from a simple run in by winger Chris Joe.

Deep into extra time Salem kept alive their chances of a steal by scoring five points only through their other flanker but it was not to be.

North One East table-toppers York will get back to playing action at Clifton Park against seventh-placed Bradford & Bingley.

Pocklington, who sit 10th, travel to third-placed Driffield.

In Yorkshire One, Selby visit Old Crossleyans while a trip to Bramley Phoenix is next up in York RI's Yorkshire Four Premier campaign.

Nestle Rowntree benefited from a few new faces as they edged a thrilling friendly at Malton & Norton 2nds 24-19.

The game started with the forwards testing each other out but soon the ball was flowing in the backs and superb tackling seemed to be the norm.

But suddenly, on 25 minutes, Trees opened from deep and a couple of passes saw Sevulino Tui break a tackle and go round the winger and his opposite number to score and convert.

From the restart, Trees set up the ball for Jale Bakani to score out wide.

The score stayed at 12-0 for half an hour before a flowing Malton move saw them score but the conversion was missed.

Trees then went on the attack and, after 65 minutes, prop Zak Hardy crashed over for an unconverted try which put Trees in control.

But some missed tackles gave Malton the opportunity to come right back into it. Nick Embleton scored a try converted by Matthew Williams before veteran prop Peter Hopkins backed up to score and give Malton a 19-17 lead with only two minutes to go.

Trees regrouped and put the home side under pressure, and a good passing move put Tui over again. He converted to give trees a deserved victory going into their Yorkshire Four Shield campaign.

On Saturday, Trees visit Leeds Medics & Dentists.