Match Report: Cleckheaton 19 – 51 Ilkley
Cleckheaton Go Out of The Yorkshire Cup
Cleckheaton’s failed to reach the quarter finals of the Yorkshire Cup after being knocked out by North Premier side Ilkley. The county cup competition has lost a lot of its sparkle over the last decade with many of the bigger clubs no longer interested in taking part. This year’s competition had only thirteen entrants with three of those getting a bye and two more getting walkovers when a couple of clubs, both in National League 2, didn’t fulfil their fixtures. Cleckheaton vs Ilkley then, was just one of three fixtures that kept to tradition and actually turned out teams to contest for a place in the last eight.
Cleck’s chances of progression looked doubtful from the early stages, when the Spen Valley men found themselves nine points down without touching the ball. This was due to Ilkley’s ability to retain possession and Cleckheaton’s over eagerness to get their hands on it. The visitors’ Man of the Match, Ben Magee, kicked all three penalty goals.
Despite starting on the back foot, Cleckheaton began to work their way into the game and enjoyed an extended period of pressure with Ronan Evans going close twice and James Wilson being held up within inches. Cleckheaton were playing some good rugby but could not fully break Ilkley down. As Cleckheaton made another attack the ball spilled loose and opposition scrum half, Morgan, collected it and ran most of the 80m to Cleck’s line before Mikey Hayward caught and pulled him down. Unfortunately for Cleckheaton, Ilkley debutant Fairclough was on hand to pick up play and go in for a converted try. Ilkley added two further tries before the half hour mark. The first coming once again from Cleckheaton spilling ball whilst on the attack. Magee converted both to give the visitors a 30-0 lead and in effect a ticket to the quarter final. Cleckheaton restarted in determined fashion, with Luke Pearson putting in a magnificent leap to catch Mike Swetman’s short restart. Cleckheaton pressed hard and created an overlap, which was nicely exploited to put Hayward in at the corner. With the first 40 minutes now up, Swetman kept his cool to slot a very difficult touchline conversion and as the sides changed ends, the scoreboard read that it was 30-7 to Ilkley.
Cleckheaton came out for the second half reinvigorated and put Ilkley under a lot of pressure but without managing to get on the scoreboard. Once again Ilkley showed their ability to break from their own half when they stormed upfield for another try from deep, Magee finishing it off with a 50m sprint. Cleckheaton’s Liam Darville then charged a kick down and picked up the ball for a well taken try for the home side but two more long range efforts from Ilkley put them out of sight. Former Cleckheaton winger, Josh Hall, going in for one of them. Cleckheaton kept playing and their line out was working really well with James Crowther being accurate with the throw-ins and Pearson and Ryan Piercy, both of whom shared the home team’s Man of the Match, being safe as houses in the air. Ceckheaton’s efforts were rewarded when from the back of a similar set piece, skipper Matty Piper, forced his way over from close range to give Cleckheaton the last try of the day and Mike Swetman added the extras for a final score of 51-19.
Cleckheaton will lose little sleep about being out of the cup, once a coveted prize but now viewed by many clubs as a distraction. They were out paced on the break a number of times by the higher division club and first up tackle misses contributed to Ilkley making initial headway. A defensive coaching session will feature at training this week and Cleckheaton will take this on the road to Dinnington next week where they face the league’s bottom placed club.