Match Report: Cleckheaton 52 – 22 Northern
Eight Try Haul
After last week’s disappointing display at Dinnington, Head Coach, Thiu Barnard, asked the Cleckheaton 1st team squad to critique their own performance and respond accordingly during this week’s game against Northern. The tactic and period of self-reflection clearly had the desired effect as Cleckheaton looked a much more determined and much more effective force, which romped to an eight try victory over their opponents from Newcastle.
Jack Seddon opened the scoring for Cleckheaton after only 3 minutes, tip-toeing down the left touchline following a good set piece drive from the forwards. Mikey Hayward did the same down the right touchline just a few minutes later on the back of good work from Matt Piper and Liam Darville. Mike Swetman converted one of these scores to give the home side a 12-0 lead. Northern hit back with a try of their own but any hope of getting back into the game was short-lived as Man of the Match, Josh Plunkett went in for Cleckheaton’s 3rd try following a nice off-load by Luke Pearson. Swetman guaranteed that the Spen Valley men would get at least one point from the game when he crashed over from short range for Cleck’s bonus point try. He also added the extras. Ronan Evans then finished off a great first half display with a champagne moment, taking a high pass out on the right wing, chipping over his opposite number and winning the race to touch the ball down in the corner. To put the icing on the cake Swetman converted from the touchline straight into the howling gale that had engulfed the Moorend ground. At the interval the game was all but in the bag at 31-5
Northern had other ideas though and shortly after the re-start stated their intention with a well taken try and conversion. Cleckheaton upped the ante and pressurised their opponents at every opportunity. Niall Jackson and Ryan Piercy put in a few big shots but Paul Turner got the hit of the day for a superb tackle. With Northern pinned in their own 22, a clearance kick that held in the wind was fielded by Hayward and he drew the defence before putting James Wilson in for another Cleckheaton try. Wilson then returned the compliment after making a break 40m out and feeding Hayward back on the inside for the flying wingman to get his second of the day.
With the scoreboard reading 45-12 the result was beyond doubt but Northern were rewarded for not throwing in the towel with another try. Barnard then brought himself on to make his Cleckheaton debut and also introduced Colt, Bailey Smith, for his first appearance in the 1st XV. Barnard made an immediate impact and after a couple good ruck clearances hit a great running line to crash over for Cleckheaton’s eighth try of the match, Swetman converting. Well into the last 10 minutes Northern’s tenacity paid off when they went in for another try, their 4th of the day, which meant they would also get a league point for their efforts.
This was a much improved performance from Cleckheaton, which propelled them to 7th in the table and they now need to establish some consistency during their trip to County Durham to face Hartlepool this Saturday.