Huddersfield YMCA 41 – 17 Cleckheaton
YM claim bragging rights and get one hand on the John Bower Trophy
Cleckheaton made a bright start to this fixture against their near neighbours in National League 3. Ten minutes in, the visitors seemed highly likely to be finishing the match with the points as Cleck dominated the early exchanges but things were to turn out very differently.
Cleckheaton got off to a great start when good work in the loose caused Huddersfield YMCA to infringe and the resulting penalty kick gave Cleck a line-out 10m from YM’s line. This set piece, which had been so productive last season, was set into action again and Richard Piper directed the driving maul over the line. Though YM hit back, getting on the score sheet when Simon Wilson kicked a penalty, Cleckheaton were soon back deep inside the home side’s 22 with a line-out throw to come. Ben Thrower threw, Luke Pearson safely plucked the ball from the air and the rest of the pack set up the drive. Whilst YM concentrated on stopping it, Richard Piper broke off the back and ran the 10m to the line, carrying a defender over with him. Mike Piper was successful with the conversion this time and Cleckheaton were 12-3 in front and looking in control.
From this point, half way through the first period, things started to go astray for Cleckheaton. Firstly a lapse in concentration allowed scrum half Simon Wilson to take a quick tap penalty and dart in from 20m out and then YM’s pack turned over Cleck in the loose and Lewis Berry ultimately converted this into points. Simon Wilson, who deservedly picked up the man of the match award after the game, converted both tries to put YM into a 17-12 lead at the break.
Cleckheaton came out for the 2nd half in determined mood and looked to turn the screw with another kick to the corner. YM illegally pulled down Cleck’s drive 5m out but rather than tapping and quickly setting up another driving maul, the team opted to take the risk of having a line out, which they duly lost and the pressure was relieved. Cleckheaton started to unravel and 50:50 kicks, handing possession away, took the place of passing through hands whilst rash decisions replaced patience. The Moorenders’ biggest enemy, the conceding of obvious and unnecessary penalties, played directly into the hands of the opposition and YM, on the back of the free piggy backs up field, broke through Cleckheaton’s backline to go further ahead. Further infringements gifted Simon Wilson a penalty goal giving YM a 27-12 lead before a break from Jack Bickerdike and good recycling and passing along the back line put Martin Woodhead in at the corner for an unconverted try. Faint hope faded fast as the Launt Hill team went in for another two tries via Sam Hodge and Simon Wilson, with the latter maintaining his 100% record with the boot for a final score of 41-17.
A disappointing day for Cleckheaton and their posse of supporters but a game from which many lessons can and should be learnt. The team face a tough fixture at home to Sheffield Tigers this Saturday and a much improved eighty minutes will be required if the Moorenders are to get anything out of the fixture.