MALTON & Norton, still severely depleted, lost 43-31 at strugglers West Hartlepool as their disappointing run continued into the festive break.

Malton travelled with high hopes of getting back to winning ways but a fourth straight loss left them eighth in North One East and looking over their shoulders at the relegation dogfight.

Malton showed good ball control and composure early on as the pack drove to within sight of the home line.

The ball was then released to the backs and a good break from centre Tom Foan put fly-half James Bulmer into space to cross for the opening try after just three minutes. Bulmer also converted.

However, West soon took over.

Safety first should have been the priority at a Malton lineout on their own 22 but a speculative throw to the back of the line missed its target by some distance and fell straight to the West number eight who burst through poor tackling to score.

It soon became apparent West possessed more pace on the flanks and, 10 minutes into the game, they went 12-7 ahead when, after sustained pressure, weak tackling allowed the right-wing to shrug off a couple of tackles and score in the corner.

After a 20-minute midfield arm wrestle, the deadlock was finally broken when a Malton penalty failed to make touch.

The return kick was badly dealt with and a hack ahead by West was eagerly followed up, resulting in a third home try to make it 19-7 at the break.

Malton needed to raise their game and cut out basic errors, but West were not going to make life easy.

From a lineout deep in their own half, the hosts quickly got the ball to their backs and a break in centre-field, aided by poor tackling, led to another try.

Five minutes later, poor defence at the fringe of a ruck allowed West to pick up and stroll in to make it 31-7.

Then came a fightback as Malton's forwards returned to the sort of play they had displayed in the first few minutes.

Good ground was made from a series of drives culminating in centre Nick Rangiuira passing on to second-row Ali Fothergill who crossed for the try, Bulmer goaling.

Midway through the half with West temporarily reduced to 14 men, Malton struck again.

Foan took a tap penalty 20 metres out and handed on to the pack. The drive and ball control was too much for the hosts to handle and substitute prop Adam Turnbull got the touchdown in the corner. Bulmer's touchline conversion made it 31-21.

Four minutes later, the pack again drove forward, ending with prop Nick Salisbury taking the ball at speed and charging over for Malton's fourth and bonus point try.

Bulmer's conversion brought the score to 31-28 and and a comeback win was on the cards.

However, on the 70-minute mark, Malton were penalised for not rolling away from a tackle. West kicked to the corner and a clean catch and drive produced the initial drive before the speedy back line was set into action to score in the opposite corner.

Bulmer narrowed the deficit to 36-31 with a penalty with five minutes left to put Malton into losing bonus point territory, but West struck back in the final minute with a penalty try after an interception attempt was knocked on.