The Morecambe Bay Storm went down to the Leeds Bobcats at the Trimpell on Sunday.
Quarterback Chris Mayne had a good day and Mark Baldwin picked up two touchdowns but the previously unbeaten visitors maintained that record with a 44-26 victory.
“We knew this was going to be a tough game as Leeds made the final four in last year’s play-offs and we were proved correct,” said Storm head coach Scud Fairhurst.
“We had a lot of guys missing which didn’t help either.
“Having said that after a shaky start the defense stepped up to the plate and played hard to restrict the Bobcats to just 44 points.”
The Leeds outfit had amassed 218 points before their trip to Morecambe on Sunday, including 62 in their last game against the Walney Terriers.
But it was the Storm who got their noses in front, Mayne finishing a fine drive up the field with a quarterback sneak from two yards out.
Leeds hit back though with a rushing touchdown from tailback Tom Dunning, the two-point conversion following from Adam Dabek.
The hosts retook the lead with Baldwin’s first of the afternoon only for Leeds to ensure it was 16-12 at the end of the first quarter when Dunning added a two-point conversion to Paul Goodward’s touchdown.
Both defenses came to the fore in the second period but it was the Bobcats who extended their advantage, Dunning continuing his fine afternoon with another rushing touchdown before he added the latest successful two-point conversion.
The Storm responded well though and reduced the arrears to four points with Dion Feather’s 40-yard reception from Mayne setting up Baldwin for his second score, this reception coming from six yards out.
Turning around 24-20 down the hosts were well in the game but their hopes were all but extinguished as the Bobcats scored 16 unanswered points in the third period.
Receiver Robin Oakley got the first touchdown of the second half, the extra two points added, before Goodword continued the visitors’ excellent day on the ground.
Dabek extended the advantage to 44-20 in the fourth and final quarter with Leeds’ final rushing touchdown of the afternoon coming from a short-range dive.
The Storm did restore some pride on their last possession of the game, quarterback Mayne ended the scoring on the day with a quarterback sneak driving the ball over the goal line.
It completed a strong afternoon for Mayne who finished with 356 total yards, a personal best 257 passing and 99 on the ground rushing.
Baldwin finished with six catches and 55 total yards while Feather had five totalling 118 yards.
On the other side of the ball Tom Smith and Rick Schuttenbeld both recovered fumbles to stall the Bobcat’s drives with defensive end Rian Eaton and Smith also sacking the quarterback.
The Storm next host the Knottingley Raiders on June 25.
Coach Fairhurst said: “We will have a lot of guys back for this game.
“We’ve picked-up a few injuries which is of concern but we’ve also recruited some new athletes to help share the load and the coaching staff are looking forward to these rookies showing us what they can do.
“The Raiders are like ourselves having just entered the league this year so on paper the teams should match-up well against each other.
“I think it’s going to be a hard-nosed smash-mouth ball game and we need to get ourselves mentally and physically prepared for the challenge.”
The Storm both play their league games and practice at the Trimpell Sports and Social Club on Out Moss Lane.
Training is on Thursday evenings between 7pm and 9.30pm and on Sunday afternoons when there is no fixture.
In their first year of league competition, the team are still recruiting.