YORK RUFC remain without a victory on the field since November after losing 16-5 at home to Preston Grasshoppers.

Heading into the clash on the back of a break over the Christmas and New Year period, York had not won since their late November triumph against relegation-threatened Burnage, although they were handed a walkover victory over Northwich last month.

On paper, the visit of Preston to Clifton Park was always likely to be a daunting one, with the Grasshoppers having lost just twice in 13 matches.

Despite the gap between the two sides in the North Premier table, it was mid-table York that created the game’s first scoring chances.

York’s driving maul created momentum towards the try-line but was ruled by the referee as illegal.

Then, a forceful run by Joe Maud, together with support from Archie Fothergill, put York in the corner again and Preston defended well to keep them out.

The visitors responded when Hoppers fly-half Alex Ward broke the deadlock through a penalty after 20 minutes.

Preston looked to have the potential to recycle the ball and roll forward but York were able to force errors and break up their possession.

However York were penalised again and Ward doubled Preston’s lead with another accurate kick.

Just before half time, York replied on the back of a penalty they won in the corner, with their attacking routine this time successful.

A dart-like line out throw from captain Ross White set up a driving maul which Preston failed to stop as number eight Shane Goulding touched down.

The wide conversion was missed and the interval arrived with the game in the balance, York trailing by just a point.

The quality of now-third-placed Preston showed in the second half as they increased their pressure.

The York defence initially kept the visitors out and a third Ward penalty attempt was missed.

When handed another opportunity, Ward kicked the ball to York’s defensive corner and the Hoppers drove the ball over the York line with captain Christian Taylor claiming the try.

The conversion from Ward was good, putting them two scores ahead.

York stayed in the fight and endeavoured to take advantage of a Preston yellow card.

The visitors’ defence stood firm and their stout set-pieces managed to keep York at bay.

Before the finish, Preston ensured they would be leaving with the points as Ward added three more points to his personal tally.

York are back on the road this weekend as they make the trip to 10th-placed Rossendale on Saturday.

Elsewhere, a lacklustre Malton and Norton went down 22-7 at home to third-placed Heath in the North One East.

Malton started brightly and they broke the deadline early on. The hosts worked their way to striking range and, on the second scrum, earned a penalty which was smartly taken for Rob Featherstone to crash over and James Bulmer to add the extras from the touchline.

Three minutes later, Heath won possession from a line out on the home 20-metre line and quickly moved the ball left. A well-timed offload back inside gave the supporting full-back space to run in for five points.

On the half hour mark, Heath visited Malton’s red zone and again seized their chance down the same channel, scoring another unconverted try.

The second half opened with a dramatic high ball from Bulmer which Tom Foan chased and brilliantly caught, but he clashed with the Heath full-back in the process.

After several minutes of treatment, Foan departed the field and, although he returned briefly, it was quickly clear his afternoon was complete.

As in the first half, Malton had ample field position but failed to capitalise upon it. Will Dunn hacked through a kick but the bounce of the ball a couple of metres from the line did not fall in his favour.

In contrast, Heath took their opportunities by the scruff of the neck and on 63 and 75 minutes they added two more tries, with one converted, to secure the five league points.

Malton will be hoping to return to winning ways at bottom-of-the-table Bradford & Bingley this weekend.

In the same division, Pocklington were narrowly beaten 26-25 at home to Morley. Second-placed Old Brodleians are Pock's next opponents.

York RI edged past Leeds Medics and Dentists 17-14 in the Yorkshire Four North/West while Nestle Rowntree lost 20-7 to Leeds Modernians.

Selby did not have a fixture at the weekend in the Yorkshire One.