Match Report: West Hartlepool 17 - 11 Cleckheaton
By Geoff Akerman
Cleckheaton travelled to Brinkburn for their first game against West Hartlepool since the 2013/14 season buoyed by the previous weeks big victory vs Northern. Cleckheaton had the better playing record with 4 wins and 4 defeats this season whilst the hosts had just 1 win and a draw from 8 games .
West kicked off on a fine afternoon and got the scoreboard moving within 2 minutes with a penalty goal by Painter from 25 metres following a high tackle. On 12 minutes , Cleckheaton were penalised again for offside at a ruck in front of the posts but the kick at goal was missed. Play was becoming a little scrappy and after 20 minutes following an infringement by West Hartlepool , Mike Swetman had a chance of a kick at goal from 35 metres but the kick sailed wide. Cleckheaton had plenty of possession, the scrum was solid and the line out was dominant. On 27 minutes following good work by the pack the ball was moved quickly left and winger Pat Foulstone got outside his opposite number who had tried to intercept and strolled in for a well worked try. Swetman was narrowly wide with the extras and Cleck led 3-5. However on 38 minutes , Swetman increased the lead with a penalty goal after Wests killed the ball with a try looking inevitable , Ryan Painter was dispatched to the sin bin and Cleck lead 3-8. There was time before the break for the hosts to reduce the lead but the 40 metre attempt was wide and the score remained at 3-8.
At the start of the 2nd half Cleck had a man advantage but couldn't increase the lead after a series of handling errors got Wests in good field position. Yet another infringement by Cleck offered another penalty goal attempt but Painter was having an off day as his kick on 49 minutes sailed wide again. Minutes later Wests were in front following a good move and offload by Miller on as a replacement saw Painter darting for the line was halted by a high tackle and the referee played the advantage and a try was awarded and the extra points made the score 10-8. Tempers were getting a bit frayed and both captains were called together and after a long lecture by the referee the game continued with 15 players aside.
Cleck had another reprieve on 58 minutes when Painter missed his 4th penalty goal attempt and at that stage the home team should have been out of sight. On 72 minutes West Hartlepool got their 2nd try after Cleck lost a line out on their own throw and with the defence in disarray , Butcher scampered over for a try next to the posts and Painter was successful with the conversion to make the score 17-8.
There was still time for another score and with good drives from Cleck play got to the try line and lost possession with the referee playing penalty advantage . Swetman stepped up and slotted a simple penalty to make the score 17-11. The final bit of action involved a scuffle with both packs involved and whilst it appeared the initial penalty was going to Cleck after a bit of retaliation it was reversed and Barnard and Baggs were sent to the sin bin.As the ball went out of play the referee blew for full time and Cleckheaton had to settle for a single losing bonus point on a disappointing afternoon for the Cleck followers.
Next week Cleckheaton entertain local rivals Huddersfield YMCA at Moorend and kick off has been moved to 3.00pm.