Newcastle Thunder 50 Workington Town 22: The euphoria of victory at Bradford and satisfaction of pushing table-topping York all the way seemed a lifetime ago as the Workington players trudged off the less-than-familiar artificial Kingston Park pitch.

Whether the effort expended during such commendable displays against League One’s top two clubs had any bearing or it was just a case of (in triumphant Newcastle coach Jason Payne’s words) “probably our best performance of the season”, the result was the same and leaves Town plenty of work to do in their final two matches to now secure a play-off place.

The nine tries conceded should certainly make for intense scrutiny in this week’s review, although it all started so promisingly for the hitherto in-form men from Derwent Park who, prior to the narrow home defeat to York, had lost just once in ten games.

It was a good, difficult-to-call contest for half-an-hour with the sides evenly sharing six tries and Town leading 16-14.

But when former Workington favourite Tee Ritson went over in the 32nd minute to put Thunder ahead for the second time, it triggered a run of six tries and 36 unanswered points (ended only by Joe Hambley’s late consolation), which took the home side out of sight and severely blurred Town’s top-five prospects.

Hambley also opened the scoring, getting his fingers on to a bobbling ball after Thunder failed to deal with Jamie Doran kick.

Stalwart Carl Forber, who made his 250th Town appearance against the Knights six days beforehand, added the goal to give the visitors the best possible start.

But cracks soon began to show as Ben Pointer, Lewis Young and Ben Calland grabbed three tries in barely five minutes for the hosts – enough to warrant unimpressed Town coach Leon Pryce vacating his lonesome perch in the closed to the public main stand and join the rest of his staff pitch-side.

His move and already obvious displeasure at now trailing 14-6 prompted a positive reaction as an incisive cut-out pass resulted in Tylar Mellor diving spectacularly over in the corner.

Shortly afterwards, Fuifui Moimoi attracted several defenders as he charged within a metre of the line, allowing wily hooker Sean Penkywicz to quickly spray the ball out to Tyler Dickinson who reached out of a tackle to score with Forber’s conversion putting Town back in front by two points.

But the pendulum swung again during the last eight minutes of the half as Aaron Ollett set up Ritson’s try, French half-back Remy Marginet converted, added a penalty then kicked through for Harry Aldous to pounce, again goaling to give Thunder a 28-16 advantage at the break.

To Pryce’s increasing frustration, Workington struggled to find any fluency as the third quarter passed almost point-less.

Penkywicz went closest for Town but Thunder proved more clinical when Adam Brook dived on a sixth tackle kick from Lewis Young to re-open the scoring as the hour-mark approached.

The west Cumbrians pressed for a reply but a morale-killing blow was landed when Stevie Scholey’s pass was intercepted by Ben Dent, who ran 90 metres to score to the delight of the home faithful.

Liam Scott then arced around a tiring and rapidly-losing-shape defence before he straightened up to run in Thunder’s eighth try from 35 metres out and Mo Agoro capped the Thunder’s impressive display with the solo try of the match – skipping in off of the wing and dancing through for a memorable score – Marginet’s seventh goal from ten attempts hoisting the half century.

Hambley grabbed his last-minute consolation with Jamie Doran converting, and only time will tell how important that might be in terms of potentially crucial game points difference, as the play-off contenders bunch up before making a desperate sprint for the line over the final two rounds of the regular season.

Match facts

Newcastle: Young, Agoro, Ritson Dent, Brown, Brook, Marginaet, H Aldous, Pointer, J Aldous, Calland, Ollett, Simons. Subs: Fitzsimmons, McAvoy, Rennie, Scott.

Tries: Pointer (12), Young (14), Calland (17), Ritson (32), H Aldous (38), Brook (59), Dent (62), Scott (70), Agoro (75). Goals: Marginet 7/10

Workington: Forrester, Mellor, Miller, Singleton Hambley, Doran, Forber, Wilkes, Penkywicz, Curwen, Olstrom, Morris, Scholey. Subs: Newton, Dawson, Dickinson, Moimoi.

Tries: Hambley (5, 79), Mellor (22), Dickinson (26) Goals: Forber 2/3, Doran 1/1. Penalties: 9-7

Crowd: 769

Referee: Steve Race (Dewsbury)

Star Man: Jamie Doran– continuously searching and probing, especially in the first half.