Penrith 38 - 20 Cleckheaton
Cleck lose opening game to last year's runners up
Cleckheaton took the long and traffic laden trip up to Penrith for their first league game of the 2017/18 season. Penrith, on paper, are one of the strongest sides in the league, after finishing runners up and narrowly missing out on promotion last year.
The bus journey was not ideal due to an accident on the M6, meaning a 3 hour trip with no stop off to stretch the legs en route. This took its toll on Cleckheaton, who started slightly off the pace and with a handling error and a mis-tackle, found themselves trailing 12 - 0 in as many minutes. Mike Swetman converted a penalty goal for Cleck giving them their first points on the board and shortly afterwards Cleckheaton's, and the game's, best try was scored when Mike Hayward broke away from his own 22, gliding up field at pace before feeding the supporting Ronan Evans for an excellent try. Swetman converted from close to the touch line side and Cleckheaton were back in it at 12-10 at the break.
Early in the second half, A Cleckheaton player entered the ruck from the side and Penrith were given a penalty,
which they tapped immediately. With Cleckheaton's defensive line not yet established, the home side executed a simple two-on-one for another try.
Cleckheaton's woes continued as Jack Seddon was sin-binned, somewhat harshly for a technical offence, and during his 10 minutes on the sideline Penrith went in for two more tries to effectively seal their victory. Cleckheaton did not give up though and despite trailing 31-10, upped the intensity to a level that would have surely given them the spoils if only they'd started the match in a similar fashion. Several Cleckheaton forwards went close before Hayward tiptoed in down the touchline.
Cleckheaton threw the ball around with vigour in the last 10 minutes but when a tap back from a Cleckheaton cross-field kick was intercepted by a Penrith player, the Cumbrians went in for their 6th and final try. The West Yorkshire men had the last say however when Evans went in for his second after excellent handling from Matt Piper and Mike Swetman.
The final score of 38-20 slightly flatters the home side. Cleckheaton's mistakes gifted Penrith tries and with a little tightening up in defence, the Moorenders could easily have taken the spoils. This weekend the team travel up the road to Wagon Lane to play Bradford & Bingley, where old rivalries can once again be rejuvenated in what is the first local derby of Cleckheaton's season. On the topic of local derbys both the 2nd team and 3rd team host Old Brodlieans this weekend, with the 2nds at Moorend and the 3rds at Whitcliffe.