Malton and Norton broke their losing streak at last but it was touch and go at a sunny but very windy Bridlington and it was not until the fourth minute of injury-time that the points were secured.
Bridlington, currently in eighth place, receive a losing bonus point, having hoped for more in a very tight situation, coming into this game with the three sides immediately below them only four points adrift.
With a total of seven of their first team squad unable to play this week, Bridlington faced a formidable task. This season, honours have been even, with Malton beating Bridlington on home turf earlier in the season, but Bridlington got their revenge in the semi-final of the Yorkshire Shield.
For the first 10 minutes, most of the play was in Bridlington territory, and a strong scrum by Malton looked ominous. A second scrum saw the home side doing better, and set pieces were generally even throughout the rest of the first half.
As the game got going there were good flashes of play by both sides, with Malton pressing strongly for several minutes, and Bridlington gaining a good position after some deft handling down the left wing and a penalty, to take them to the opposition 22 metre line and their first real attacking position. A scrambled lineout and the opportunity was gone.
Malton full back Sizwe Zondo looked particularly dangerous against his former team, and proved to be a real handful every time he had the ball, but the visitors could find no a way through some resolute home defence and posed little threat to the line.
Just into the second quarter, that changed. From a line-out close to the Brid line Malton set up a number of rolling mauls with some excellent offloading to have the home defence in disarray.
Having moved infield the direction of play was then switched as the ball was released to the backs and centre Josh Heggie gave hooker Jim Thornton the scoring pass to record the first try.
On the half hour a good Bridlington attack saw the opposition penalised. A quick tap and go with quick handling, saw an overlap created on the blind side and the opportunity was accepted for the home side’s first try from Muru to level the scores.
Kicking in the crosswind was a lottery and Jack Arthur’s conversion was missed.
Malton then had full back Zondo sin binned for not rolling away after a tackle. However, they were next to strike.
Sean Emms got his hands to a Bridlington ball at a line out five metres from the home line.
Again the maul was set up with precision and had Brid on the back foot when the ball was finally released and wing Tom Newitt strolled over for Malton’s second score on 38 minutes.
In the final minutes, and with Bridlington deep in the visitors’ half, a penalty took Bridlington to the five metre line and led to a try in the corner for Will Davies.
A truly magnificent conversion into the teeth of the wind, by Arthur, brought up a half time score of 12-10.
In the first 10 minutes of the second half, the honours were about even, with set pieces going with the head. Persistent offending at the breakdown saw Brid temporarily reduced in numbers when Ali Sutton was yellow-carded but again Malton were unable to take advantage against stout home defence.
At the midway point Malton hit the jackpot.
Flanker Ali Coe stole the ball in centre field. A good drive took them 20 yards on before Zondo seized possession and broke free to give the pass to number eight James Machin, who strode away from 20 metres out to get the touchdown to put his side in front again.
A good high restart by Arthur, and a mistake by Malton, led to a penalty to Bridlington just inside the opposition half and a decision to go for goal. It was a brave one in view of the conditions, but the correct one as Arthur judged the wind perfectly to land a superb goal.
The Malton pack then began to show their mettle and became more dominant, both at the set piece, where they appeared capable of pushing the scrum back at will, and in several successful mauls, as Bridlington tired.
The front row of Nick Salisbury, Thornton and Rob Featherstone were causing problems for their opposite numbers and on the half-hour the pressure told.
A series of scrums close to the home line sapped the energy from the Brid pack and when the ball was finally given to the Malton backs, a defence-splitting run from wing Ian Cooke was enough to open the door for Zondo to cross in the corner and score against his former colleagues.
With eight minutes left, Malton hopes were high of achieving the win they craved.
In the final minutes, as Bridlington pressed home an attack, a clever loop by Stephenson brought a try to close the gap to 20-19.
A third fantastic conversion by Arthur gave Bridlington the lead with very little time left and real hope of a home win.
There was more desperate defending as the match drew to a close, and in the fourth minute of injury-time Malton were awarded a penalty 30 metres out and almost in front of the posts. Cooke calmly stroked it home and, much to Malton’s relief, the final whistle sounded.