TOP of the table Northallerton continued their winning run with a 16-9 victory at home to second placed Old Otliensians.

The win made it 18 out of 18 in all competitions this season but the opposition were the best North had faced this season and had the home team discombobulated for most the afternoon.

North fell behind in the first minute when James Hopkins spilled the ball in contact, and in the resulting scramble to retrieve the ball Otley were awarded a penalty which they duly dispatched to take a 3 point lead.

Northallerton then slowly made their way upfield and into the Otley half. Iain Swall stole an Otley lineout ball on their 22 line and North went on one of their fabled rolling mauls only for it to be brought down ten metres from the line. North opted for another line out from which they went over the whitewash due to another rolling maul, Phil Swall touching down for the unconverted try.

After fifteen minutes there was a melee on the Otley 22 sparked by an innocuous challenge, once everyone had calmed down the referee yellow carded an Otley player and awarded a penalty for North, which Jedd Bainbridge dispatched with ease.

Norths one man advantage was short lived as a couple of minutes later Lee Peake received a yellow card for using a hand in the ruck.

North then frustratingly gave away two silly penalties in close succession which were both converted despite a blustery crosswind to give Otley the lead again.

Just before half time though, Bainbridge stepped up to convert a penalty from out wide to send North in at the break 11-9 in front.

The second half was a quieter affair with Otley having the majority of possession and territory. However, as previously stated, Northallerton have worked on and dramatically improved their defensive qualities over the last year, which enabled them to repel the opposition threats.

Otley also improved their line outs in the second half and even managed to disrupts Northallerton’s usually flawless line outs which put more pressure on the North defence.

North made a couple of changes to freshen things up, taking off the tiring Peake and Paul Dixon, making way for Joe Hargreaves and Jacob Sankey.

On one of Norths rare forays into the opposition half, Otley made the crucial error of knocking on a easy pass. From the resulting scrum, Iain Swall was adjudged to be held up over the line meaning another 5 yard scrum for Northallerton. This time however, North surprised the opposition by Swall peeling off the base of the scrum before passing to Jamie Douglas who in turn popped the ball to Jeremy Deas to touch down from a yard out. Bainbridge’s conversion drifted just wide.

Five minutes from time Otley thought they were back on level terms when their flanker broke through two tacklers and had a free run to touch down. However, the referee had already blown his whistle for a double movement earlier, much to the relief of the home supporters and the disdain of the visitors.

North held out for the final few minutes to register their 16th league win and put them seven points clear at the top of Yorkshire 3.

Man of the match was awarded to Joe Osleton.

Next week Northallerton travel to Castleford for a 2.15pm kick off.

Northallerton second team also continued their winning ways with a 34-0 away win at Stocktonians.

Norths tries came from Dougie Mulholland(2), Olly Faller Raw, Chad Kenney, Jack Radcliffe and Dave Barker. Brian Tucker adding two conversions.

North also loaned the home team Paul James as they were short of players. James nearly repaid the generosity with a try against his own team but due to the pitch being so boggy and cut up, he touched the ball down for a try but was actually 5 metres short.

Norths man of the match was awarded to Chris Anderson who continues to improve.

Next week North seconds are awaiting fixture confirmation.